By Seth Daniel
The panic over a 20 percent increase in water and sewer rates has been quelled, but ratepayers will still have quite an increase on their hands this July.
Mayor Tom Ambrosino indicated to the City Council last week that the proposed residential water and sewer rate would be $11.59, up 7.8 percent from last year.
While that is quite a rise for one year, it pales in comparison to what was being predicted in February. At that time, the mayor said he was considering midyear rate increases along with a 25 percent rate increase for the coming fiscal year.
None of that panned out, luckily.
The commercial water and sewer rate will be $16.03, which is up 6.9 percent over last year.
The residential sewer rate, which is set by the superintendent of public works, has been targeted at $8.78 per 100 cubic feet. The water rate, which is subject to council approval, has a proposed rate of $2.81 per 100 cubic feet.
The commercial sewer rate is set at $12.04, and the proposed commercial water rate is $3.99.
Mayor Ambrosino said the single-digit increase is a remarkable achievement, considering that MWRA base rates are up by 13 percent.
â€œThe water rates are lower, mostly because we have cut everywhere we could, including salaries and discretionary accounts within the Water and Sewer Enterprise Fund,â€ said the mayor.
Meanwhile, Councillor George Colella, who will be reviewing the proposed water rates in his Ways and Means Committee, said the increase was unacceptable in his book, despite the lower numbers.
He said he would call for recently received free cash from the state to be used to supplement the rate increases.
â€œI plan to call for that free cash to be put towards rate relief,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s astronomical still and out of hand. The ratepayers need relief.â€
The new rates are effective starting July 1.