Peterborough water, sewer rates to increase

  • Peterborough Select Board members Ed Juengst and Chair Tyler Ward listen to a presentation of the water and sewer rates during a Select Board meeting on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, November 09, 2017 11:16AM

The Select Board approved increases to both the water and sewer rates on Tuesday, with Town Administrator Rodney Bartlett warning that similar increases will be recommended next year.

During its regular meeting on Tuesday, the board agreed to increase the water rate by 15 percent and the sewer rate by 10 percent. The bills for water and wastewater are calculated by multiplying the usage times the rate, with the minimum bill based on 750 cubic feet of usage.

The increases put the water rate at $61.88 per 1,000 cubic feet and the wastewater rate at $87.43 per 1,000 cubic feet. This compares to the current rate of water at 56.25 per 1,000 cubic feet and wastewater at 76.02 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Part of the reason for the increase, explained Town Administrator Rodney Bartlett, is that water and sewer revenues were severely down last year, due to the drought and Peterborough’s resultant water ban, leaving the departments operating in the red. Water revenues were down 9 percent, by about $79,000, and wastewater (which has a smaller customer pool) were down by $159,000 or 18 percent.

“These increases would get us to a point to be able to support the department’s tasks and activities,” said Bartlett.

But, he warned the board, they shouldn’t be surprised to find similar increases proposed for next year, he added, particularly if the town wants to meet its goal of building up fund reserves for water and sewer to cover unanticipated but urgent repairs. 

“One year’s not going to fix it,” said Bartlett. “It’s going to take two years, if not three.”

Peterborough resident Eddie Gomez asked the board if there was a way to reconcile encouraging water conservation with the fact that less water usage meant less revenue for the water department.

Conservation Commission member Robert Wood chimed in, saying the topic has been discussed several times at the conservation commission, and the commission was in agreement that the town should explore rate structures that categorized members by water use.

The board and Bartlett agreed that it might be productive to consider other rate structures, but did not take any motions on the subject during Tuesday’s meeting. Select Board member Ed Juengst moved “reluctantly” to raise the rates in line with recommendation from the water and wastewater department’s suggestions, and the board approved the increases unanimously.