By Rachel Ravina, Staff Writer
(May 30, 2019) Municipal water and sewer rates, which have been a major factor in Berlin government’s budget discussions this winter and spring, were increased Tuesday night by a unanimous Town Council vote.
As of July 1, the water utility’s rate will go up 5 percent, and the sewer utility’s rate will rise by 25 percent for the fiscal year 2020 budget.
For water rates, customers inside the town limits using less than 2,999 gallons per month will be charged $16.37, those using 3,000 to 4,999 gallons per month will be charged $17.67 and those using 5,000 to 6,999 gallons per month will be charged $19.64, according to the council resolution.
Any customers using more than 7,000 gallons per month will be charged $4.45 per thousand gallons, and that’s effective July 1.
For sewer rates, metered customers inside the town limits using less than 2,999 gallons will be charged $61.16 per month, those using 3,000 to 4,999 gallons will be charged $66.26 per month, and those using 5,000 to 6,999 gallons will be charged $73.06 per month, according to the resolution. Any customers using more than 7,000 gallons per month will be charged $8.50 per thousand gallons.
The policy also stated water and sewer rates “for metered customers being served outside of the town limits the rates in the above paragraph[s] will be doubled.”
Town Administrator Laura Allen said the town’s water and sewer rates hadn’t been adjusted since 2010.
She listed several staff recommendations regarding the restructured fees including a $58.50 temporary shut-off fee, a $58.50 turn-on fee and a change in the resolution to require people to notify the town 24 hours before filling a swimming pool.
Allen also said she’d hope consumers would adapt to these rates and “use less water.”
“It was our effort of increasing conservation among users,” said Robert Duma, of Davis, Bowen and Friedel Inc. the town’s consulting firm.
During the public hearing portion of the meeting, Berlin resident Jason Walter appeared to take issue with that,andaskedofficialshowtoramp up conservation efforts.
“What do you expect? Not [to] flush the toilet?” Walter said.
Another audience member asked how these rate increases would affect the general fund.
“It is basically [like] repaying a loan, if you think of it,” Finance Director Natalie Saleh said.
Troy Purnell asked Saleh to clarify if “this is going to make us break even?”
Saleh said she “project[s] the sewer fund to … breakeven,” barring no emergency situations.
Purnell moved to approve Resolution 2019-04, and it was unanimously approved.