Hadley Select Board Retains $10 Quarterly Sewer Impact Fee, With Changes

HADLEY — A $10 quarterly impact fee, imposed on all landowners starting last year as a way to maintain sewer company fund solvency, is retained, but with changes in how they will be used.

After officials heard concerns from residents who are paying the fee even though their homes aren’t on the sewer system, the Select Board voted unanimously on Wednesday to continue collecting the fee, but to begin directing more than half of the nearly $100,000 contributed annually to the water business fund instead of the sewer business fund.

The decision to retain infrastructure charges follows a recommendation from City Administrator Carolyn Brennan, Treasurer Linda Sanderson and tax collector Susan Glowatsky, and a presentation showing that significant adjustments to utility rates water and sewer would otherwise be required.

“We need income, and that makes sense,” Glowatsky said.

Board Chairman David J. Fill II said the fee was necessary to avoid seeking waivers of the Proposition 2½ debt exclusion to pay for various water and sewer projects.

“We’re going to end up with waivers if we remove this fee,” Fill said.

The impact fee brings in $96,040 and under the new plan 55%, or $52,822, will be directed to the water fund and 45%, or $43,218, will be directed to the sewers. This distribution is calculated on the basis of the 1,243 owners who only use city water, while 1,035 owners use both services. Another 87 landowners have farm meters that show their water is not going into the sewer system.

Sanderson said the new way to use fees should reduce concerns from residents who argued they were paying for something they weren’t using. “We all admit it was an awkward deployment,” Sanderson said.

Officials have argued that even residents who don’t have municipal sewers benefit from the city’s low property taxes, which is possible due to the many businesses on municipal sewers.

If the impact fee which started last May is not retained, along with a 3% increase in sewer fees which will be the subject of a hearing this spring, the Select Board would be forced to increase water charges by 5% and sewer charges by 7%. %, according to figures provided by Glowatsky.

As part of the strategy adopted, a graph presented by Glowatsky shows that for an average residential user consuming 1,400 cubic feet of water and on city sewers, the additional quarterly burden, due to charges and adjustment of 3% sewer rates would be $12.38. If instead the city pursued a 5% increase in water rates and 7% sewer rates, this user would only pay $8.19 more per quarter.

But the commercial restaurant, using about 6,900 cubic feet of water, would pay $22.42 more per quarter under the adopted strategy and $46.69 more per quarter if the city agreed to the steeper rate increases. . Even larger increases would hit larger commercial users, such as hotels, if impact fees were removed.

In the meantime, the city is also undertaking strategies to keep company funds intact, which cover operating costs and capital projects. One way to do that, Brennan said, is to make cuts where possible and bring reduced budgets to the town meeting.

The sewer companies fund will be $64,625 less, from $942,335 this year to $878,070 next year. The water company fund will be $50,861 less, from $1.13 million this year to $1.08 million next year.

Sanderson said the two will be able to cover operating expenses and also pay outstanding debt related to various projects, although she added ‘we are not on a good trend’ with the principal payment. . These projects for which the city has taken on debt include water and sewer improvements, done in conjunction with the state Route 9 widening project, painting the Mount Warner wells, and l buying a new truck.

Scott Merzbach can be contacted at [email protected]

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