Water and sewer rates are increasing, but not as much as some City Councillors initially feared.
Most of the City’s residential water and sewer customers will see an increase of 1 percent in rates for Fiscal Year 2020, and larger users will see a 4 percent increase.
In June, City Manager Thomas Ambrosino presented the Council with a proposed three percent increase for water and sewer customers who use less than 2,500 cubic feet of water. A 5 percent increase was proposed for customers who use more than that amount.
In June, a number of Councillors spoke out against the proposed increases.
“This is killing the poor people who live here,” said District 6 Councillor Giovanni Recupero. “This is not only going to drive the homeowners out, this is going to drive the tenants out, too. This is a bad thing to go up this much.
Following a public hearing on the rates earlier in July, Ambrosino and Public Works Commissioner Fidel Maltez discussed concerns about rising sewer rates, according to a letter the City Manager sent to the Council.
“Although rising rates are inevitable when the majority of the City’s water and sewer costs are determined by charges from the MWRA, and those charges rise each and every year, we are cognizant of the City’s need to try to keep the rate increases moderate,” Ambrosino stated.
After looking at some of the recent improvements to the water system in the past year, including the start of the program to replace aging water meters throughout the system and better tracking of water use by contractors, Ambrosino said he believes the City will be able to reduce non-billable usage.
The City Manager said he also plans to implement a better process for water and sewer rate-setting, beginning next year. Those plans include a spring subcommittee meeting with the City Council to present recommendations for water and sewer rates for FY21.
While the water and sewer rate increases are lower than initially proposed, there will be a heftier price to pay for the City trash rate with a 10 percent hike.
“For the past several years, we have been running deficits in our trash accounting because the rate has not been sufficient to cover the true cost of solid waste collection and disposal in the City,” Ambrosino stated.
The 10 percent increase is an effort to eliminate that deficit.
The new FY20 trash rate is $33.10 monthly for residential property and $156.15 monthly for commercial units in mixed buildings. Owner-occupied units will remain exempt from the fee.