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Changes suggested for water and sewer access, connection fees

September 02, 2009
MEREDITH — Members of the water system committee are advising the town adopt a simpler and possibly more equitable system for water and sewer access and connection fees.

Water System Committee Chair Dave Thorpe presented a report to the selectmen with suggested changes to the water ordinance and fee structure, saying there are "serious concerns" regarding access fees.

"Not only is some of it inconsistent and hard to understand in some cases, it's not equitable," Thorpe said.

The Water Committee said in a report to the Board that access fees needed to be changed to be more equitable to users and reflect the current and future needs of the town.

According to the report the town's equivalent unit determination for access fees is based on an "obsolete" design flow table from the Department of Environmental Services with "significant deviation" from DES rules in Meredith, some of which lead inequities in access fees.

The committee suggested creating an equivalent unit access fee for Meredith under DES rules that would create a more equitable system for users. Suggestions were also made to change the fees for the sewer system as the fees are close together.

It was advised the town apply a single access fee for the water and sewer system, suggesting a $1,950 minimum per unit access fee for water and a $1,900 minimum per unit access fee for sewer. The current cost is $2,000 for water connection for the first unit and $650 for all other units and the sewer cost of $1,500 for the first unit and $1,000 for all other units.

The committee also suggested reducing the connection fee, possibly at the suggested $100 for both water and sewer.

Thorpe said while the reduction in the connection fee will result in reduced revenue, revenue generated from the access fee would gradually make up for the difference. The water access fee for residences would increase 16 percent and 13 percent for hotels and motels. Theaters would see a 94 percent decrease, but Laundromats would see a 231 percent increase.

The committee said that higher rates are recommend over a more revenue neutral system. The fee could bring revenue for water system capital and reimburse the town in a more even fashion for infrastructure improvements. Co-Interim Town Manager John Edgar did say the current figures now were more for comparative analysis and not a revenue projection.

"The way it's structured it's certainly going to be more able to utilize," said Co-Interim Town Manager and Administrative Services Director Brenda Vittner.

"This is a real bargain compared to what you'd pay for other utilities," said Selectman Bob Flanders, who said wells can cost between $6,500 to $12,000 depending on the land, construction, and building.

The Selectmen will schedule a public hearing to revise the water ordinance to accommodate the fee changes and another hearing to adopt the proposed changes.

Martin Lord Osman
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