The Board of Water Sewerage has proposed an increase in the water rate that would result in an average increase of $48 per year for the 'average' Medfield water rate payer.
There is no rate increase proposed for sewerage.
The current rate of $31.05 base rate (for the first 10,000 gallons) would increase to $38.81 for a base rate with incremental increases depending on gallons used.
With the increased rate, water bills would generate an estimated $900,000 of revenue this year (depending on usage).
At a public hearing Wednesday night, Jeremy Marsette of the W&S Board said the increase is necessary to meet the expenses of the water enterprise fund which has fallen short the last couple of years by about $200,000 each year which is then covered by a transfer from the fund's reserve account (which now has a balance of approximately $100,000).
The problem, said W&S member Willis Peligian, is that current water rates do not generate enough revenue to cover annual expenses.
"It is substantial but, if you look at the numbers, we would end up borrowing money to end up balancing our budget," said Peligian, noting that Medfield's water rate is still one of the lowest around.
A W&S summary of residential water usage rates showed:
Medfield water users pay a base rate of $31 for the first $10,000 gallons used per half year. The average 35,000 gallon user then pays $100 per half year. That would be multiplied by two since the average home uses 70,000 gallons per year.
Compare local water rates:
- Town - Base - 35,000 gal
- Medfield - $31 - $100 (current)
- Medfield - $39 - $124 (proposed)
- Millis - $113 - $178
- Walpole - $63 - $221
- Framingham* - $59 - $216
- Medway* - $72 - $258
- Dedham-Westwood - $173 - $287
- Canton* - $71 - $240
- Norfolk - $104 - $267
* MWRA Supply
Medfield's proposed rate increase would still have the town at the bottom of this list.
The average annual bill peer comparison showed per year charges of:
- Town - Sewer - Water
- Medfield - $442 - $248
- Westwood - $570 - $574
- Walpole - $738 - $442
- Medway - $316 - $516
Medfield has 85 miles of public water mains, five wells, two storage tanks, one booster pump station, and 4,000 service accounts (98% of the town).
The rates would also cover the debt service associated with upcoming water projects including:
1. Replace Storage Tank at Medfield State Hospital. Will cost $2.7 million. Tank was built in 1930. Currently off-line. Will need to be replaced before painting of Nebo tank.
2. Painting Mount Nebo Storage Tank. Will cost approximately $1 million to drain tank and paint interior and exterior. Tank was built in 1983. Hope to do this in 2016.
3. Water Treatment Plant for Wells 3 and 4 behind Wheelock School.
4. Hydrant Replacements
5. Water Main Rehabilitation/Replacement
Audience members noted the need for water improvements, and commented on the affordability of the water rate, but expressed concern that if this increase is adopted by the Enterprise Fund Committee, Medfield's water rates will have increased 40 percent since 2010.