Jump in water rates

Published 8:47 am Saturday, June 9, 2012


WINDSOR—Windsor Town Council during its 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 12, meeting will seek comments from residents for increasing water rates by 22 percent and the meals tax by 1 percent.

The meeting will be held at town hall.

The average water bill of $35.50 every two months can expect to increase to $42.99.

The rate increase is needed to pay down debt, said Mayor Carita Richardson.

“This town council was left with a $1.5 million debt on the water front,” Richardson said. “One well was dug over a decade ago, and money was borrowed to dig it with a 40-year term at four-percent interest. About five years ago, another well was needed and we had to borrow more money to do so. That together makes the debt.”

Town Manager Michael Stallings said the current water rate generates $357,250 annually; the proposed rate should yield about $416,000, or $60,000 more.

The water fees were last raised about three years ago and kept “artificially low,” Richardson said.

“It’s a great thing to have a water system so cheap,” she said. “Everyone liked it. That was the way it was. Now, it’s not working.”

She said one loan was renegotiated at a little over one percent. That’ll be paid off in 20 years instead of 30 years and save about $250,000.

“We have to get serious to put away a considerable amount for depreciation, which includes repairing, replacing, adding to the system,” Richardson said.

If approved, the meals tax would increase to 5 percent, which should bring in $41,000 annually, Stallings said.

“It’s been quite a few years since it was increased, but it would still be considerably lower than most municipalities,” Richardson said.

Smithfield’s is five percent and Franklin and Suffolk levy 6.5 percent. Add to each the state’s five percent tax.

“We felt it was the best thing to look at,” said Richardson. Increasing costs to the town are the main reasons. These include electric rates, street lights, gas prices and the fee to use computer software for inventory, payroll and water bills.