Rate hikes in
By Jennifer Kovalich,
The City Council is expected to consider
hiking water and sewer rates to help pay for a $17.5 million water
treatment plant upgrade and a mandated wastewater treatment plant upgrade
that now has a price tag of about $86 million, up from a previous $61
"The increase is going to be needed to
pay those bonds," said Mayor James E. Harrington.
The last water rate hike that was approved
by the City Council went into effect in 2004, the first increase residents
saw in 10 years. At that time the average single family home saw its water
bill rise about $27.50, basically an 11.6 percent increase.
Harrington blamed the potential additional
10 percent rate hike on the costs of the water and sewer upgrades, some
which he said the city is under orders to make by the federal
Environmental Protection Agency and state Department of Environmental
"Obviously it's not something we want
to do," Harrington said of the potential rate hikes.
But the city has to meet the mandates on
the treatment plants, and may even be facing a monetary fine, the mayor
A "disturbing" point, the mayor
said, is that even though
"It's a huge burden on the rate
payers," Harrington said.
The city has six block rates that are
measured in volume per 100 cubic feet, which is about 750 gallons of
water. The more water households or businesses use, the more they pay for
the increased usage.
According to figures proposed by the
Brockton Water Commission, water rates could jump by 17 cents from $1.70
to $1.87 per 100 cubic feet for the lowest volume users and by 50 cents
for the highest volume users per 100 cubic feet, going from $3.32 to $3.82
in that block.
Sewer rates could climb 20 cents per 100
cubic feet on the lowest volume user end and jump 51 cents per 100 cubic
feet on the high end in the first year of a proposed five-year rate hike
that would increase each Jan. 1 starting to 2007 and going to 2011.
Harrington said the rising cost of the
wastewater treatment plant upgrade is due to changes in requirements by
"They changed the requirements for
what can and cannot be in the water when it goes out the plant into the
river," Harrington said. "Whenever they do that we need to
change how we process the water. We have to meet that permit. It's a very
difficult thing to do."
City Water Systems Manager Brian Creedon
said the upgrades to the water treatment plant has been necessary to
replace aging parts.
"We're not letting things breakdown.
We're fixing them where they need to be fixed," Creedon said.
The city's infrastructure is aging, he
said, estimating that about 150 miles of the city's water pipes are
between 90 and 110 years old.
City Council President Dennis DeNapoli said
he expects residents will be upset about the increased rates.
"How do people feel about increases in
anything? They don't like increases," DeNapoli, of Ward 5, said.
Even if the city does increase rates,
DeNapoli said he believes they are still in line with those in surrounding
The City Council Monday night is expected
to refer discussion on the proposed rate hikes to the Finance Committee.
Jennifer Kovalich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org