SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

August 19, 2013

Wastewater rate hike proposed in Ipswich

By Jonathan Phelps
Staff writer

---- — IPSWICH — The town is seeking a 20 percent wastewater rate hike.

Selectmen will take up the issue tonight during a continued public hearing, scheduled to begin at 7:45. The hearing was opened on Aug. 5.

The proposed change will increase the rate from $5 to $6 per 100 cubic feet, according to information provided by the Utilities Department. The last increase, 6 percent, took place last August.

The increase will amount to an estimated $1.94 per person, per month, according the department — or roughly $24 a year for each person in a household. A family of five would pay an estimated $9.63 per month more, based on an average of 48 gallons being used per person, per day.

Utilities Director Tim Henry said the increase is needed because of three recent projects to improve the town’s wastewater system, which hasn’t been upgraded in 40 years. The combined projects cost the town about $6 million. The first two phases are complete, and the third is expected to be completed by February 2014.

“The debt service is due on those projects,” Henry said, noting that the rate increases were made clear to residents before being voted on at Town Meeting.

“These are all projects that are due,” he said. “This is not only a good investment, but a necessary one.”

The department expects an additional 10 percent hike in fiscal year 2015.

If selectmen, in their role as water commissioners, approve the change, the rate increase will be effective Sept. 1.

Staff writer Jonathan Phelps can be reached at 978-338-2527 or by email at jphelps@salemnews.com. Follow him on Twitter at JPhelps_SN.