June 19, 2018
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Veazie workshop to focus on sewer rate hike

By Dawn Gagnon, BDN Staff

VEAZIE, Maine — A sewer rate increase that would be phased in over the next three years will be among the topics that town councilors and Veazie Sewer District trustees discuss tonight at a joint workshop at Veazie Community School.

The session begins at 7 p.m. and will take place in the library, local officials said.

The increase will be the sewer district’s first in a decade, Steve Thebarge, chairman of sewer district’s three-member board of trustees, said Wednesday night.

In a Feb. 15 letter to ratepayers, the trustees said the board decided on Feb. 9 to increase rates to cover rising operating, debt service and other costs. The rate increase will take effect with the April 1 billing.

Slated to increase is the district’s debt retirement assessment, which now stands at $25 but will increase to $32. The charge for sewer use, which is based on water use, will increase incrementally from $3.47 to $3.81 as of April 1, to $4.38 on April 1, 2012, and to $5.12 as of April 1, 2013, the notice said. The cost for flat-rate users will be adjusted accordingly.

The letter also notes that the rate increase will be the subject of a public hearing at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 2, also at the school.

In a Jan. 24 letter to town councilors, the sewer district trustees asked for insight regarding a series of information requests from Veazie Town Manager Bill Reed, mostly through e-mail and with copies sent to members of the Town Council.

“We can only assume this was done on the behest of the Town Council, and we have provided the Town Manager the requested information in a timely manner but would appreciate some insight to what precipitated the seemingly increased interest in the operations of the district.”

While the trustees said they were striving to be transparent in their operations, they asked that a joint meeting be scheduled to discuss areas of mutual interest and concern so that councilors and trustees could discuss issues face to face.

“We will continue to respond to ‘Request for Information’ requests in a timely manner and follow established guidelines including billing the requesting party for staffing time that exceeds one hour and billing for any photocopying costs,” the trustees said.

“We have instructed district staff not to use e-mail as a response to a request and ask that the information be picked up at the Sewer District office.”

Reed said Wednesday that he requested a copy of the district’s audit, budget information, a current revenue and expense report, information about the number of accounts the district has and any outstanding collectable amounts, all of which are matters of public record.

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