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55% percent water-rate increase on tap for discussion in Bristol

June 2, 2005

By KRISTEN McCARTHY

BRISTOL — Bristol selectmen on Monday will consider a proposed 55 percent increase in water rates. The rate increase, which would add $24 per quarter to a typical small user’s bill, would make up for increased costs due to inflation, help repay a debt to the town’s general fund and be used to make improvements to the distribution system.

The increase comes in water and sewer budgets as proposed by water district coordinator Scott Powell and which the selectboard will consider Monday after holding a public hearing on the matter. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at Holley Hall.

While the sewer budget and rates would remain stable, the increased water rates would boost water budget revenues by $105,700.

Rates have not increased for the water department in three years, with the minimum fee set at 47 cents per day for up to 100 gallons of water. The proposed increase would raise the minimum to 73 cents per day, which breaks down to six cents for inflation and 20 cents for capital improvements and debt repayment.

Town administrator Bob Hall said that the water department is faced with several system upgrades in coming years, and the additional revenue would allow the town to set money aside in a capital improvement fund. A portion of the $77,877 currently in the fund has already been earmarked for replacement of existing four-foot water mains on North Street from Pine Street to the intersection of Plank Road and continuing on Plank Road. A representative from Green Mountain Engineering will present a study on this project to selectmen Monday.

About $60,000 of additional revenue brought in by the water rate increase would be used to repay a debt to the town’s general fund, which has built up to more than $100,000 due to several years of deficits. A large portion of this debt is the result of unanticipated expenses to restore water service in Rockydale in 2002.

Powell’s budget would also use some of the additional money to establish a contingency fund that could be used in emergencies, such as the Rockydale situation.

Hall said selectmen would listen to testimony and act on the budgets and rate increase at Monday’s meeting. After the budget hearing, the selectboard will hold a regular meeting at which representatives for the new Veteran’s Memorial on the town green will make a presentation.