, Newburyport, MA

Local News

February 7, 2013

Public hearing on hike in water rates set for March 11

MERRIMAC — After many discussions among town officials about the rising cost of water over the course of the past year, the people of Merrimac will finally get a chance to have their say on the issue.

The Board of Selectmen have posted official notice that they will meet on Monday, March 11, at 7 p.m. at Merrimac Town Hall, 4 School St., for the sole purpose of conducting a public hearing on the proposed water and sewer rates.

As it stands now, the proposed base rate for water service in Merrimac is set to rise to $15 per quarter, up from the current $11 per quarter, for a 36 percent increase. The rate per gallon will also go up, rising to 80 cents from the current rate of 68 cents per gallon, which is a 17.5 percent increase.

Water usage in Merrimac is 17,000 gallons per year for the average home. When the new water rates go into effect next spring, the typical Merrimac household will pay $544 per year for water, which is up from the current $462.

The resulting $164,000 in additional revenue generated by the price increases will be used to offset the cost of the town’s forthcoming water main improvements, according to officials.

The new rates would commence with the last water bill of the fiscal year, which will be mailed out in April, just in time for the springtime watering season, when residents once again begin cultivating their lawns, irrigating gardens and washing their cars in the driveway.

Town officials had earlier anticipated that the increase in the cost of water would be partially offset by a $40 reduction in the sewer rate, but speculation is that such savings may now be down the drain.

In other news from Monday’s meeting of the Board of Selectmen:

The Merrimac Old Home Days Committee’s request that selectmen deny any and all permit requests for the sale or distribution of alcohol in and around fair events was approved unanimously.

A request from Rep. Lenny Mirra to hold office hours at Merrimac Town Hall on Feb. 8 from 9 to 10 a.m. was unanimously approved.

Scheduled an appearance before the board by Town Clerk Pat True on Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. to discuss details of the forthcoming primary special election.

Selectmen went into executive session to discuss personnel matters at 7:24 p.m. Their next meeting is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 11 at 7 p.m.

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