Water Industry News

Lynn water rate increase on tap

By Thor Jourgensen
May 28, 2004

LYNN, MA -- Water and sewer ratepayers will pay $22 more under a rate hike set for review by the Water and Sewer Commission June 9.

The proposed increase represents a 3.5 percent increase in the average water and sewer bill of $623 annually.

"It's a modest hike in keeping with our long-term rate forecast," Commission Chief Financial Officer David Travers said.

Commissioners last week encouraged ratepayers to attend the 6 p.m. hearing at its 400 Parkland Ave. headquarters.

The commission hiked rates from $603 for the average bill to $623 last year. Commissioners plan to follow a long-term strategy of holding annual rate hikes to about 3 percent, even though they are reviewing several expensive projects.

The commission Monday approved spending $2.3 million to repave 70 streets torn up when sewer work was under way last year.

The commission will pay for the project with payments held back from former sewer contractor USFilter. The firm was fired in February with outstanding payments still owed it by the commission.

The street work will be finished by the end of the year, and will include sidewalk repairs.

The commission is under federal orders to create separate storm and sewer line networks in some parts of East Lynn and West Lynn. A $425,000 study to determine the cost and scope of that work will be finished in September.

Water and Sewer officials dismissed claims by USFilter in March that firing the firm will cost ratepayers hundreds of dollars in rate increases over the next several years as the additional sewerage work is done.

USFilter Vice President Christopher Hodgkins claimed each additional $2 million spent on sewer separation adds $75 to each ratepayer's bill. But Travers said in March the commission could use low-interest state loans to fund the sewer separation project.