Sewer rates going up $40 a year

WILTON — Rates for sewer use will be going up this year, by $10 per quarter, the Sewer Commission announced in a public hearing Thursday night.

The rates will be changed from $55 to $65 per quarter, an equivalent of $220 per year to $260 per year. The increase will be reflected with the first quarter billing period, which covers sewer usage between Jan. 1 and March 31. Residents in Wilton pay a flat sewer rate.

During his recent bid for re-election to the Sewer Commission, Commissioner Tom Schultz said it would be a long-term goal of his continuing status as a commissioner to review the impact of switching the town from a flat-rate charge to a charge based on usage.

There are two main reasons for the increase, said Sewer Chair Tom Herlihy at the public hearing on the issue Thursday. The increase will help pay for a 10-year, $220,000 bond approved by voters in 2013 to fix broken pipes on Maple Street. The first payment on that bond comes due this year. The project was completed with a surplus of $50,000, which the commission plans to use to pay down the principal of the bond for at least the first year, and likely the second, said Herlihy. Although the excess funds from the bond will be used to make those first payments, the commission is adjusting the rate in order to ease the future impact of the bond payment.

The second potential increase relates to the charges from the town’s use of the Milford wastewater facility. Milford is expecting an increase in cost of processing the wastewater, related to updated regulations in connection with stormwater treatment imposed by the state, said Herlihy. Because of that, it is likely Milford will be charging Wilton more to use the facility.

“I think we’re being conservative on the rate,” said Sewer Commissioner Tom Schultz on Thursday. “This is the least amount practical to make sure we have adequate income.”

Between the Maple Street Bond and the potential increase for use of Milford’s wastewater facility, sewer users may see a similar increase next year, said Sewer Commissioner Chris Carter. Herlihy added that the Sewer Commission would be seeking to control spending and avoid another increase if possible.

The Sewer Commission does expect to see some savings resulting from the repaired pipes from the Maple Street repairs. The broken pipes were allowing groundwater in, which was being sent to Milford for processing. Since Milford charges for the total amount of wastewater processed, processing the clean groundwater was costing the town. Also, explained Herlihy, the town invested $7,600 in a new flow meter last year, which replaced a 30-year-old meter, which had been incorrectly measuring the town’s flow to the Milford facility, by up to 24 to 28 percent.

While the Commission expects these investments to yield savings this year, they will not know how much the savings will affect the Commission’s budget until the end of the year, when the commission can compare last year’s numbers to the current flow to Milford.

The Sewer Commission meets monthly on the second Thursday of the month in the Town Hall Court Room at 6:30 p.m.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ex. 244, or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaari.

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