, Newburyport, MA

January 30, 2013

Selectmen vote to raise water rates, lower sewer rates

By Warren P. Russo

---- — MERRIMAC — The long-running discussion about Merrimac’s $142,000 shortfall in water revenues finally reached a new level this week, as selectmen voted to raise water costs while lowering the sewer rates.

Although the vote was unanimous, the selectmen’s action puts the measure on the agenda for final disposition by residents at the annual Town Meeting, which is scheduled for Monday, April 29.

Under the new plan developed by Finance Director Carol McLeod and DPW Director Robert Sinibaldi, water costs will be raised to 80 cents per gallon from the current 68 cents, and the base rate charged to customers will be increased to $15 from the current $11.

According to McLeod, revenues resulting from imposition of the new water rates will generate $165,000 in revenues, eclipsing the current shortfall by $23,000.

The average annual water bill will increase by $98, while the average sewer charge will drop by $40.

In other action at this week’s meeting, selectmen:

Declared the town-owned property at 28 School St. available for sale.

Discussed PAYT (pay-as-you-throw) stickers for trash disposal, but were unable to reach a decision on the bags vs. barrels issue.

Approved a $10,000 payment to Peregrine Corp. for budget/salary analysis services.

Approved $535 per facility for annual inspection of sprinkler and fire alarm systems in town buildings by Ebacher Co.

Discussed expansion of the town’s cable access studio and operations with volunteer Carol Traynor, former chair of the Board of selectmen.

The next selectmen’s meeting will be on Monday, Feb. 4 at 7 p.m.