Veazie sewer rate hike plan aims to keep district afloat

Posted Feb. 12, 2013, at 12:44 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 12, 2013, at 4:51 p.m.

VEAZIE, Maine — A proposal to increase sewer user base fees by more than 60 percent is heading to a public hearing set for 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 26 in the Veazie Community School cafeteria.

Veazie Sewer District trustees have been considering a rate increase since at least last August, when the district’s auditor reported that the utility was running out of money during a trustees meeting.

At that time, the auditor pegged annual operating costs at about $525,000 and revenues at roughly $475,000, resulting in a $50,000 gap. Trustees also learned that most of the money that had been set aside for long-term needs, such as equipment replacement, had been used for operating costs.

A letter sent to customers earlier this month noted the current sewer rates took effect on July 1, 2011. Since then, the district “has incurred additional capital and operating costs resulting in a net loss, excluding depreciation expense, of $22,803 in fiscal year ending May 31, 2012.

“In order to meet current expenses and replenish reserve funds, a total revenue increase of $59,616 is proposed,” Chairman Rob Tomilson and fellow trustees James Parker and Buddy Webb wrote to customers.

“To generate the increase, the fixed fees will increase by $16 per quarter to $41 per quarter,” they said. The increase, which amounts to 64 percent, would take effect on April 1.

Trustees said, however, that the usage fee portion of customers’ sewer bills will stay at the current $4.16 per 100 cubic feet and that the assessment from the town of Veazie also will stay at the current $150,000.

Also going before the public during the hearing are proposed charter changes that would:

• Align the trustee nomination and election process with that of the town council.

• Allow all registered Veazie voters to vote on sewer district matters.

CORRECTION:

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated fixed fees would increase from $16 to $41 when in fact it will increase from $25 to $41, a total of $16.

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