Letter: Waste treatment facility revamp

To the Editor:

There does not seem to be much choice not to go forward with the proposed $48 million revamp of the town’s waste treatment facilities.

There are some $11 million in grant funds available for the project if the town acts now. These grants may not be available if the ballot question does not pass.

It would seem that a “yes” vote is needed, or the voters are just throwing $11 million away. The remaining balance is to be paid by us — 20% paid by all taxpayers and 80% by the taxpayers using the facility directly in the form of a “sewer use fee.”

This fee is not a tax. The fee is annual, and has increased from $390 (2010) to $470 (2018). And, is proposed to increase to $750 (2019). The fee is applied to a “unit” and represents an influx of 350 gallons of sewer water entering the facility daily. A single unit is applied to each residence (multiple units for other institutions), regardless of the actual sewer water exiting that residence.

Water supply is fairly easy to meter, as a waste treatment facility meters quantity and knows how much it costs to treat a gallon of wastewater. If Residence A uses 75 gallons of water per day, and Residence B uses 500 gallons per day, it’s hard to understand why both pay the same cost for a radically different amount of service.

In most areas, sewage is combined with water use and deemed a utility, and all utility costs are based on what is consumed.

The inequity of a single person living alone and a household of five paying the same amount for a completely different amount of service is puzzling.

With the fee projected to get as high as indicated, the town should be obligated to reformulate how to fund this project and announce its intentions prior to Nov. 6; else, I do not know how they would expect a positive vote.

John W. West

Abbott Avenue, Oct. 20