333WVN Alert: Water surcharge
- Mar 30, 2009WVN ALERT
Dear Wayland Voter,
If you are a town water customer you have may have received a bill containing an unexplained surcharge of $118. If you didn't receive the surcharge, watch for it in your next bill.
The water commissioners meet tonight in the Town Building at 7:30. If you have something to tell the commissioners, there is a public comment period early in the meeting.
Background: The commissioners held a sparsely attended public hearing on Jan. 6 to present their plan to pay for the debt on a new water treatment plant at Baldwin Pond, needed to solve water quality problems in North Wayland, by imposing a flat $236 annual charge on every Wayland water account, regardless of usage.
The few attending objected strenuously on grounds of fairness and the effect on water conservation.
The annual charge will be made in two installments for residential accounts. Though billing cycles may differ, all accounts, residential and otherwise, will be billed the same total per year.
The charge could increase as new financing is needed for this and possible future treatment plants.
When voters approved funding the Baldwin plant at the 2006 Town Meeting, nobody mentioned the possibility of surcharges to cover debt. The project was in effect underfunded.
In the 2007 annual Town Meeting warrant the Finance Committee said, "This article approves the Water Dept. operating and capital budgets for Fiscal 2008. The operating budget reflects an increase of $215,830, or an increase of 11.4 percent from the 2007 budget. The increase is primarily from the increase in debt service of $146,128, resulting from borrowings of approximately 20 percent of the $7.5 million authorized in the 2006 Town Meeting for the construction of the water treatment plant at Baldwin...:"
Reserve funds from water revenues have been depleted ($500,000 in the Fiscal 2006 budget, for example) to help balance town operating budgets.
Article 26 in the annual Town Meeting warrant (page 48 in the green booklet mailed to residents) is a petitioners' measure to create a water department enterprise fund. "This is the ONLY way to ensure that all water revenues can only be used for water purposes," the article asserts.
Tonight at 8 p.m. the Warrant Hearing at the Town Building will provide a preview of the issues to be discussed at Town Meeting, which begins on April 13.