-By Seth Daniel
There’s good news and bad news concerning water and sewer rates this coming year.
For the first time in a long time, MWRA rates for Revere have dropped overall by nearly two percent (1.7 percent to be exact). However, due to salaries and expenses within the local Water and Sewer Enterprise Fund, rates are expected to rise about 3.5 percent in the coming fiscal year (which starts on July 1).
Mayor Tom Ambrosino said that MWRA rates went down because they began using the official U.S. Census population number to set rates, rather than an estimate that was previously used and is much larger.
However, all of those savings were wiped out by a nearly five percent increase in the cost of running the local Enterprise Fund. Those increases, again, are caused by employee salaries and expenses.
Ambrosino said that some of the debt incurred by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suit against the City would be hitting ratepayers this year, but the majority of those huge debt payments wouldn’t be noticeable until next year.
Finally, he said that there would be no last minute crisis in water rates as there was last year.
In May of last year, the City learned that collections were down significantly and a sudden structural deficit was uncovered. The City was unable to cover that deficit right away, which required a double-digit increase in this year’s water rates.
In the end, residential rates increased by 14.5 percent over the previous year, and commercial rates were up by 17.5 percent.
Ambrosino said there is no indication of a similar situation arising this year.
“Our collections through April were close to our target,” he said. “It will depend on May and June collections. We don’t expect anything like last year right now.”
The particulars of the commercial and residential rates locally have not been ironed out yet. The new rates will be discussed and approved at an upcoming City Council meeting this month.