Water Industry News

Springfield, MA increases sewer rate 

September 29, 2005
By Ted Laborde 

SOUTHWICK - Sewer customers will pay an estimated $40 more annually beginning next year as town officials move to bring revenue more in line with expenses in operating the town's new $16 million sewer system.

The Board of Selectmen, acting as the Sewer Commission, last night approved the Department of Public Works' recommendation for a 55-cent increase in the current $4.40 per 1,000 gallons of water-used sewer fee.

That increase relates to about $40 per year more on the average customer's bill, said DPW Director Jeffrey A. Neece. The average customer is charged about $300 annually under the present rate. There are about 730 sewer customers on the Southwick system.

But officials are quick to point out that the $4.95 per 1,000 gallons rate may be offset next year if Southwick is successful in its application for continued state sewer rate relief grants. Earlier this year, the town received $12,640 from the state to temporarily reduce the impact of the $4.40 rate. Last year, the town received $6,718 in state rate relief.

Neece told selectmen last night a $5.53 per 1,000 gallons of water rate is needed to make the sewer operation self-sufficient. "But, that would produce rate shock on the customer."

Southwick's general fund, or overall property taxes, help subsidize $60,217 of the total $293,940 annual expense to run the sewer system, Neece said.

The new rate will cut the dependence on taxes 50 percent, or to about $30,000 annually, he said.

Most of the cost of operating the new sewer system is paid to Westfield for treatment of sewerage at that city's Waste Water Treatment Plant. Southwick currently pays Westfield $170,000 annually for treatment.

Southwick sends Westfield 146,000 gallons of raw sewage each day for a total of 53.3 million gallons per year.

Other sewer costs are: $72,440 for salaries; $41,100 for maintenance operations; $8,000 for chemicals to reduce odor at pump stations; and $2,400 for electricity to pump stations.

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