Small Increases in Water and Sewer Rates Proposed

The city’s public works commissioner is recommending an increase of 1.5 percent for the FY 2025 water and sewer rates. At last week’s meeting, the city council voted to hold a ways and means subcommittee meeting with public works commissioner Cate Fox-Lent and City Manager Fidel Maltez for a discussion of the recommendation. There is also a proposed increase for trash fees for non-owner occupied units in the city. “We will hold a public hearing in June to notify and inform our residents of this increase,” stated Maltez in a letter to the council. “We welcome the opportunity to discuss this issue with our city council ahead of this public hearing.” This year, the public works department performed an assessment of the usage tier thresholds for water rates and the properties served in each tier, according to Fox-Lent. “Overall, we find the structure to be equitable and have retained the three tiers,” she stated in a letter to Maltez. “This year, we propose a flat increase for all water users.” The three tiers are determined by monthly water and sewer usage, with higher rates per hundred cubic feet for uses that use more water per month. Across all tiers for water and sewer, the proposed increase is 1.5 percent. “For the monthly trash rates, we completed a similar analysis and recommend an increase of 8% across the different usage groups,” stated Fox-Lent. “Owner-occupied units will remain at no trash charge. Our 10-year contract with Wheelabrator in Saugus ends in December 2024. As landfill space in Massachusetts becomes more limited, costs for trash disposal are increasing significantly statewide.” In order to keep utilizing the nearby Saugus incinerator, Fox-Lent said the city can expect to see a jump in rates compared to the past decade. “Other disposal options would have much larger travel costs associated,” stated Fox-Lent. “Despite the increase, rates remain below the full costs of disposal, resulting in a deficit that must be subsidized by the general fund.”

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