“Effective April 1, all property owners who have a municipal sewer stub associated with their property will be paying a privilege fee,” said Henri Renauld, Mattapoisett’s Water and Sewer superintendent.
The fee has been necessitated for a variety of reasons, not the least of which are the payments made to Fairhaven for the capacity they handle – or is calculated to handle, based on the number of stubs in Mattapoisett.
Town Administrator Mike Gagne said, “There are a fair number of homes that have a sewer stub but have not tied in.”
Mattapoisett is assessed on all stubs, regardless of whether or not those stubs are tied into the system; thus, up until now, the ratepayers alone have been paying the entire capacity assessment.
“It’s an issue of fairness and equity,” Gagne stated.
“The Finance Committee pushed for this to happen,” Finance Committee Chairman Pat Donoghue said, adding that increased sewer costs can, in part, be attributed to newer, stricter regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency as the agency continues to lower acceptable nitrogen emissions into water supplies and coastal zones.
“We had to look at what we are going to do,” Renauld said of budgetary considerations moving forward. “The bigger the user base, the lower the rate,” he explained.
But, with new EPA regulations ramping up, ratepayers can only hope the percentage of increase will be modest, versus no increase at all.
“There is a nitrogen study going on right now on the Acushnet River,” Renauld said. That study is measuring nitrogen emissions of all towns along the river, and it includes discharges for stormwater runoff as well. “Our share of any upgrades (to the sewer plant in Fairhaven) could be as much as $3 million. It’s fair that every person in town with a sewer stub pay their share,” he concluded.
The privilege fee has been announced to all property owners who have a sewer stub, whether it is on undeveloped or developed lots, and has or has not tied in.
Seasonal and year-round property owners will be billed $157 twice a year, equal to about $26 per month.
In other sewer-related matters, Gagne said the sewer crossing at Eel Pond is another large project that will have to be addressed in the coming years.
According to Renauld, that pipe is encased in concrete.
Gagne will be looking at the possibility of submitting grant requests to FEMA to offset what would be an enormous undertaking for the town – the relocation of the pipe to Route 6.
In other matters, Gagne said of the increasing costs of health insurance, “This is the biggest issue.”
He said, in speaking with other administrators in the southeast, it is the single most chilling aspect of preparing a budget.
“Until something is down nationally, …” he said, his thought lingering unanswered in the air. He noted the incredible disparity that exists in medical procedures from one health care provider to another, medications, and stop loss insurance plans.
Donoghue said of Gagne and his upcoming retirement, “He has straightened out so much. He had put this town on a AAA (bond rating) status, he has sought grants, he has professionalized a lot of the town departments…” She said that providing educational opportunities for Town employees has gone a long way in improving services.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Finance Committee is scheduled for March 13 at 5:00 pm in the Town Hall conference room.
Mattapoisett Finance Committee
By Marilou Newell