Manchester utility non-users may pay $54 yearly fee


MANCHESTER -- The town council is considering a proposal to charge nearly 250 homeowners a $54-a-year utility usage fee even though they aren't hooked up to the town's water or sewer systems.

The proposal was introduced to the council Wednesday night.

So far, the town has not billed Manchester homeowners who are not connected to either the water or sewage system.

But the town's ad hoc water and sewer committee offered the proposal in an attempt to compensate for lower-than-expected utility revenues this fiscal year.

Revenue from the 250 homeowners who aren't currently charged for service they don't get would generate $13,500 for the town's coffers if the proposal is approved. Current water and sewer users would not see any change in their bills.

The committee also asked the council to split the annual $90 fee that some 960 homeowners pay for water and sewer service from the town. That proposal calls for a water-only fee of $54 and a sewer-only fee of $36.

Committee members arrived at those figures after noticing that nearly 80 percent of all water used by town residents ends up in the sewage treatment plant.

The committee was formed last month after many homeowners expressed shock at the town's higher water and sewer rates enacted in May.

Close to 90 town residents stormed a July 14 council meeting with complaints and threats about bills that were up to four times higher than last year.

Some business owners complained of water bills that rose as much as 300 percent.

As a partial reprieve, the town council approved an ordinance that held the bills of businesses that used more than 70,000 gallons between April and June to twice the previous quarter's bill.

That measure will cost the town treasury close to $4,000.

The new water rates are tiered, with higher rates assigned to higher water usage. Sewer rates are a flat 2.6 times the water rate.

The new rates are part of the town's $1.1 million budget, its

largest ever.

Water and sewer costs account for $619,000 of the budget and represent a near-doubling of water and sewer expenses last year.

In other action, the council said it expects to approve a curbside-recycling contract with Hughes Trash Removal Inc. by October. Councilman Geoffrey S. Black said details of the contract would be final by next month.

Under that proposal, both recyclables and trash would be picked up once a week.

The council budgeted $24,000 for a curbside program, but Mr. Black said the cost could be as much as $10,000 less.

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