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Selectmen Approve MWRA Rate Increases, Town Meeting Could Slightly Lower Bills

Fall Town Meeting will have the opportunity to drop water rates from and increase of 7.8 percent to 7.43 percent.

The Milton Board of Selectmen have approved a 7.8 percent increase in water bills, which after the October 22 Town Meeting, could be lowered slightly to a 7.43 percent increase.

The increase in water rates and a 5.35 percent in sewer rates are for Fiscal Year 2013, which began on July 1, 2012.

The increased rates, set by the MWRA (Massachusetts Water Resources Authority), have increased steadily in recent years. Besides the water and sewer enterprises, the assessment also goes toward the authority’s debt service.

At the fall Town Meeting, a Warrant Article will ask for a lower appropriation for the MWRA, passing on the savings to water and sewer users.

“Basically, it allows Town Meeting to vote for a smaller appropriation,” said Chair Tom Hurley of the fall Town Meeting article.

At Thursday’s Selectmen meeting, Joe Lynch, the Milton Department of Public Works Director, explained that the rate increases voted on by the Selectmen was set based on the MWRA’s estimated assessment in February.

In June, the MWRA released its final assessment, which was $17,577 less for water and $54,384 less for sewer fees.

Depending on the customer’s tier, the change in the assessment will mean between one and four cents per 100 cubic feet in savings.

“It doesn’t represent a huge savings for the homeowner, but I think it’s a show of good will and good faith,” Lynch said of the proposed Warrant Article.

Selectman Bob Sweeney, who voted against the water and sewer rate increases, has been critical of the MWRA rate increases each of his three years on the board.

“I have a problem once again raising the rates,” Sweeney said.

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