Jaffrey / Peterborough

Budget funds sewer grants

Jaffrey to see $432K; $900K for Peterborough

After years without state aid grant funding to support the cost of two new wastewater treatment facilities in the Monadnock region, the state has allocated approximately $1.3 million in its two-year 2014-15 budget for that purpose.

The state’s budget, signed into law by Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan on Friday, includes $432,000 in state aid grant funding for the town of Jaffrey and up to $900,000 for the town of Peterborough, said Jaffrey Select Board Chair Don MacIsaac on Monday. The amount of money each town is slated to receive this budget cycle is, in part, dependent on the number of years a town has chosen to finance its project, which in Jaffrey is 20 years, MacIsaac noted.

Town Administrator Pam Brenner said Monday that Peterborough’s sewer rates were scheduled to increase 12 percent as of Monday, but with state aid grant funding restored the sewer rate will remain level. “Its the best thing I’ve seen for the state of New Hampshire in over five years,” she said of the state’s decision to reinstate the grant funding.

When voters approved new wastewater treatment facilities in Jaffrey and Peterborough a few years ago, the state’s Department of Environmental Services approved both towns’ projects for grant funding — Jaffrey’s for $6 million and Peterborough’s for $4 million. But those grants were then deferred as victims of budgetary cuts approved by the Legislature.

In total, lawmakers budgeted about $9.4 million in state aid grant monies for the more than 120 delayed and deferred drinking water, wastewater and landfill projects throughout New Hampshire in fiscal years 2014 and 2015.

Eventual receipt of the long overdue grant funds will be a big day in the town of Jaffrey, said MacIsaac, who during the past year has partnered with the N.H. Municipal Association — which provides advocacy and support to member municipalities — and has met with several state politicians to get the message out.

“In getting this resolved, it helps booster partnerships between the state and the towns,” MacIsaac said, adding that the state’s decision to restore state aid grant funding in its 2014-15 budget was “the right thing to do.”

Exactly how the grant money will benefit taxpayers and sewer users in Jaffrey is unclear at this time, MacIsaac said. DES, which administers the grant, is scheduled to meet on July 16 to review and refine its financing schedule.

Jaffrey sewer rates have doubled since 2007, and projections are for 4 to 5 percent annual increases in the years to come. Whether or not the sewer rate could level off, thanks to the state grant, is yet to be determined, MacIsaac said.

Since 2009, the state has dramatically reduced funding for the state aid grant program, which normally covers about one-third of the costs of wastewater, public drinking water and landfill closure projects. Although the program has remained active, the state has continued to fund only those projects approved before October 2008 and already receiving grant monies at that time, according to MacIsaac.

Jaffrey learned it would not receive a $6 million state aid grant towards the construction of its $18 million wastewater treatment facility in spring 2009, after the project had been approved on that basis at Town Meeting in 2007. Jaffrey had been under an administrative order from the state to upgrade its outdated wastewater facility since 1995, and from the federal Environmental Protection Agency since 2004, according to town officials. In 2006, voters at Peterborough’s Town Meeting approved spending $10.32 million for construction of the wastewater treatment plant to meet new federal EPA and DES requirements. In 2008, voters approved spending an additional $3 million on the project when costs went up.

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or adandrea@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.

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