Sewer rate hike?

If OK’d, it will be first in Montague since 2009

MONTAGUE — Sewer rates will increase for the first time in years, if town meeting members accept the change tonight.

Selectmen approved the rate change following a public hearing Monday, contingent on an affirmative vote on a related article at tonight’s special town meeting.

An appropriation of $120,000 from sewer-retained earnings to decrease the sewer rate is on the 28-article agenda for the meeting at 7 p.m. in the Turners Falls High School. All may attend, registered voters may speak, but only elected town meeting members may vote.

Annual appropriations from the plant’s profits have maintained the rates at the same level since 2009. Voters appropriated $160,000 to keep residential rates flat last year.

Wastewater Pollution Control Facility Superintendent Robert Trombley proposed the rate increase, saying that the level rate is unsustainable and will eventually result in a spike to users from the cumulative effect of deferred increases.

Trombley also pushed for an increase last year but was overruled by the Board of Selectmen.

The proposed rates are:

■ $5.75 per 1,000 gallons for the Southworth paper plant and the Riverside section of Gill, a 19-cent increase.

■ $6.22 per 1,000 gallons For Millers Falls, Turners Falls, Montague Center, Montague City and Lake Pleasant, a 22-cent increase.

■ $344 flat rate for customers on the town sewer system but not the town water system, an increase of $10.

With the exception of the flat rate, sewer fees are calculated based on the volume of water into a residence. Water in is metered, waste out is not.

Trombley said the rate increases would translate into a $13 bump in the average residential sewer bill, which would remain below the state average.

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