NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

January 10, 2013

Water costs dominate Merrimac agenda

(Continued)

“We just don’t have the demographics that would enable us to even apply for these grants,” she reiterated.

“For small towns like ours to survive with little business is very difficult, because the taxpayers end up paying for everything,” she added.

“Sure, we need more ratepayers, but it’s Catch-22 because to get more ratepayers, you’ve got to increase the scope of the system.”

“There are a lot of folks in town who are trying to do the right things,” added Baumgardner, “and since we got the Mass DOT to help while we have the streets torn up, we made the decision to go with that.

“We continue to turn those stones, and some funding that (Finance director) Carol McLeod found is going to save us some $400,000,” he continued.

“The townspeople need to know that we’re doing everything we can to control the cost, but we are nevertheless looking at a rate increase.”

Proposed new water rates for Merrimac remain stalled at $15 per quarter, up from the current base rate of $11 per quarter, which is an increase of 36 percent. The per-gallon rate is also scheduled to rise to 80 cents per gallon from the current rate of 68 cents, for a 17.5 percent increase.

Under the proposed new water rates, the average Merrimac household would pay $544 per year for water, up from the current figure of $462. The resulting $164,000 in additional revenue would be used to offset the cost of the town’s water main improvements.

The new water rate increases, if approved by Town Meeting, are scheduled to take effect next spring, to coincide with prime outdoor water usage for watering lawns, irrigating gardens and washing cars.

Trott, who moved to Merrimac five years ago, expressed his willingness to continue researching potential funding and grant opportunities.

“I’ve been told that state aid is available,” said Trott, “but no one seems to know how we can get it.”

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