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Higher town water, sewer rates OK'd, to meet rising state assessments

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On Sept. 1, to cover rising costs, rates for water will increase 5 percent and for sewer use 4.5 percent, as the Select Board voted unanimously Monday, July 16, to endorse the town manager's recommendations.

"The driver of these increases is predominantly caused by increases to the MWRA water and sewer assessments charged to the town," Adam Chapdelaine, the manager, said in a memo.

Arlington has not had a rate increase for either water or sewer use since fiscal 2014. "Despite annual increases in the MWRA’s water and sewer assessments of approximately 4% as well as increases in Arlington Public Works operation costs, rates have remained level during that time, the June 22 memo says. "The single most reason for this is an increase in water demand over the same period."

In fiscal 2013, when rates were studied, he wrote, the trend for use was heading down, with a low in fiscal 2012 of 1,130,196 ccfs, or units measured in 100 cubic feet. Based on this downward trend, Chapdelaine wrote, the rate study used a number of 1,127,304 to develop and recommend a rate structure for fiscal 2014 and future years.

"In fact," he wrote, "the usage picked up a bit and has been rather level from FY14 to now hovering around 1,240,000 ccfs. This increase in actual consumption over estimated has allowed us to keep rates level while expenses increased."

But the situation has changed, he wrote.

"We are now at a point where our expenses have caught up with and exceed the revenues of the rates set back in FY14. Without a rate increase in FY19, it is estimated that revenues collected in FY19 would be approximately $500,000 short of expenses."

Rising costs are expected to continue in the near term.

"It is expected that similar increases will be necessary for subsequent years as well," Chapdelaine wrote.

Citing the main source of these increases as water-and-sewer assessments that the Mass. Water Resources Authority charges to the town, he noted "some positive developments at the MWRA which may allow the assessment increases to be reduced in future years as the authority begins to climb down the backside of the debt it acquired as part of the court-mandated Deer Island sewer-plant renovations.

"If these reductions are realized, future Arlington increases may also be able to be reduced as well."

The Select Board voted, 5-0, with little discussion.

A July 13 memo from the manager spells out the projected impact of the rates. Read it here >>  

Clean Energy Future Committee

In a matter related to utilities, the board approved the manager's recommendation to create a Clean Energy Future Committee and supported its mission and membership.

The manager made his proposal on behalf of the town’s Energy Working Group. The purpose of the new committee is to lead Arlington’s campaign to become carbon neutral by 2050 (net-zero emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases attributable to the town).

That would include encouraging increased use of bicycles and public transit and decreased use of automobiles.

The manager's July 13 member explains the committee membership >> 

Before the board voted, 5-0, Chapdelaine said, with a smile, that it was decided not to call the panel the Net-Zero Committee, because that might be confused with an early internet service provider called NetZero

June 25, 2014: Water rates to hold firm for fiscal 2015 

This news summary was published Tuesday, July 17, 2018.

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