, Newburyport, MA

October 24, 2012

Shortfall may hike Merrimac water rates

By Warren Russo Correspondent
Newburyport Daily News

---- — MERRIMAC — Selectmen Chairman Earl Baumgardner this week sought to clarify the issue of Merrimac’s uncertain water rates, saying Monday night that the new rates have not yet been determined.

Responding to last week’s published Finance Department report that a $160,000 shortfall in water revenues would probably cause Merrimac’s base rate to nearly double — from the current $11 to a new rate of $20, Baumgardner said a public hearing will be held on the proposed rates. Notice of the meeting will be posted 30 days in advance, he said.

Also Monday night, five Parks and Recreation supervisors appeared before selectmen to work out a transition plan as the department goes from elected to appointed positions.

Baumgardner expressed a preference for a representative from each league to be involved in the group, a suggestion that won agreement from all.

“A lot of people felt that the terms were too long, as their own kids grew up and went on to college,” said Jay Soucy, the de-facto spokesman for the Parks and Recreation contingent. “I think the appointed position is the way to go.”

After a closed-door executive session, the board touched on a number of issues before adjourning in time for the third presidential debate.

Selectmen approved a payment of $10,084.90 to KBA Architects for work on the Sweetsir School renovations.

The board reported that an energy audit has been completed and is currently being reviewed by town officials.

Officials announced that foreclosure proceedings on the former Coastal Metal Finishing, Inc. plant on Little’s Court have begun. After the deteriorating structure, which is located in a dense residential area, was closed a decade ago, it underwent a $900,000 remediation to remove large quantities of cyanide, acids and other toxic materials that were left behind.

Selectmen approved buying a $3,230 spectrophotometer for the Sewer Department and the $77,386 in repairs and refurbishment of the town’s fire pumper by M&R Auto Body of Whitman.

The board officially inducted former Building Commissioner Robert Sinibaldi as the town’s new Department of Public Works director, at an annual salary of $80,000.

Selectmen also lauded programs appearing on the Veterans’ Cable Channel. Veterans interested in participating in the programs may contact Selectwoman Laura Mailman at the senior center.

The board set trick or treat times for Wednesday, Oct. 31, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and scheduled curbside leaf collection for Thursday, Dec. 6. Leaves should be in paper bags and placed curbside by 7 a.m.