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Meredith to have public discussions on proposed water rates

August 18, 2010
MEREDITH — The Board of Selectmen will take extensive public input before holding a hearing to change the water rates.

During a previous workshop meeting, the board voted to accept the latest report by the Water and Sewer Committee, which included proposed changes in the rate structure.

During the board's July 19 workshop, Water System Committee Chair Dave Thorpe presented the committee's report saying the water rates had not increased in several years. Additionally improvements and repairs to the water treatment plant depleted the department's reserves. Another issue is the potential for a sizable bill for the town's involvement in the Winnipesaukee River Basin project.

The new water rates simplify the rate structure and create more of a 69/31 share between water users and the town in general, with water users paying operating expenses and the general portion paying for capital costs.

The rates would be done on a sliding basis for three years.

The new rate structure also gets rid of the current tiered and seasonal systems in favored of a single rate for sewer and water. There have been concerns, however, that the rates would be too high for many businesses.

On Monday, Town Manager Phil Warren recommended that the board have a public discussion on the proposed rates at their next two meetings.

Warren said this will give residents the opportunity to hear how the rates will affect them in their varying circumstances. The public will also have a chance to give their input to the board on the proposed rate changes. Warren said these meetings will have a dollars and cents explanation of how the rates will effect different users.

Public comment on the issue will be heard during the Sept. 20 and Oct. 4 meetings.

Warren said these meetings will lead up to the public hearing on the water rate changes proposed for Oct. 18.

"Let the community know as much as humanly possible," said acting board Chair Colette Worsman. "We know that you have to do some changes, but certainly it's going to impact the community."

"Having these two sessions will be very good at communicating the impacts," said Selectman Peter Brothers.

Warren asked the board to vote on having a hearing at 5:45 p.m. on Oct. 18. The hearing will be held during the regular selectmen's meeting, but Warren said that will be the only agenda item.

The board voted unanimously in favor of having the hearing on Oct. 18.

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