Marion residents face rising tide in water, sewer bills

By Andrea Ray | May 17, 2017
Photo by: Andrea Ray Selectmen Steve Gonsalves, Jody Dickerson and Norm Hills.

Marion — Marion’s residents might want to hold their noses when they receive their next water and sewer bill - the unwelcome odor of rising tax rates is in the air.

Marion’s Board of Selectmen approved the raised rates set forward by the Water and Sewer Rate Study Committee on Tuesday, May 16.

“It’s not easy to figure out sewer and water bills,” warned Marion’s Finance Director Judy Mooney. “We’ve done our best to minimize the damage as much as we can.” She acknowledged that rates needed to rise. “Last year, we didn’t increase the tax level of the lowest-use tier,” she said. “We can’t do that again.”

Marion Finance Director Judy Mooney announced that base rates for households using town water will increase by 1 percent, and base rates for town sewer usage will increase by 2.5 percent.

This comes after a previous increase of 2016, and rates will increase further still. That is because there is also an increase in tax rates per tier, of which there are three. Tiers are decided based on level of usage. For example, a 2.5 person family is in the middle tier - and is also the average size of a Marion household.

An average 2.5 person household in Marion will pay $44.95 per year in water taxes, an increase of $4.76 over the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. However, as meter size increases (from 5/8 of an inch to 4 inches at the largest) the rates shoot upwards. Those in the top tier are looking at paying $907.41, an increase of $16.60 above current fiscal year rates.

The average annual sewer rate for a 2.5 person household in Marion, as of July 1, will be $139.60 per year, an increase of $32.44 over the previous fiscal year. Those at the top tier will find their sewer bill astronomical - their increased payment of $96.96 per year leads to an overall bill of $2,776.02.

The combined rates indicate that an “average” Marion household would be paying an extra $180 or so per year, an increase of $32.44 per year. These tax rates only apply to Marion households connected to the town’s sewer system - a little over 1,600 households.

The rising taxes shouldn’t be a surprise to Marion residents. After an astronomical increase of about 70 percent in sewer and water rates in 2007, no more increases were enacted until 2016. However, Marion Town Administrator Paul Dawson warned that more increases were further down the pipeline, so to speak. “It’s important to point out that we’ve all heard about new state permit at the wastewater plant,” he said. “All the things that will come as a result of that.”

He indicated that the rates were a result of things that the Water and Sewer Rate Committee knew would absolutely happen in the next fiscal year. However, he noted to the selectmen, “If you approve tonight, there will still be a deficit of $425,000 next year, not including and expenses occurred that we don’t know about yet. There’s no doubt we’ll be back next year at this time.”

 

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