MANCHESTER — Even though the town expects to spend nearly 40 percent more money in the upcoming budget year, property owners here will be given a 3-cents reduction in their tax rate.
But that savings -- which amountsto a little more than $16 for the owner of a $130,000 home -- will be more than eaten up by higher water and sewer rates.
Fueled by a doubling of sewer system expenses and a 43 percent increase in providing the town with water, the spending plan for the year beginning July 1 is expected to top $1.1 million.
And while thetax rate -- currently the county's lowest -- is slated to drop to 39cents from the current 42 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, townresidents will find water and sewer bills that may shock them into using less water.
The new rates were designed that way, town officials said. The new rates need to pull in more than $280,000 as the town begins to feel the costs of the recent $11 million upgrade to its sewer system.
For the last three years, the town budget rarely increased by more than 5 or 6 percent over the previous year. But this year is different, the town council said last week when it revealed thespending plan.
At $1.1 million, the budget is 33 percent higher than the current year's $830,000 spending plan. General expenses -- police protection, trash removal, street repair and administrative costs -- are expected to total $523,474, a 5 percent jump from the current $496,244. The increase in general expenses was the lowest it's beenfor the last two fiscal years.
Water and sewer expenses are a different story. At $436,181, the sewer budget is more than double the current $209,525. The water budget also is expected to jump to $178,330, from this year's $124,100.
What the higher town budget means totaxpayers here is a decrease in property tax levies in exchange for substantially higher water and sewer rates.
To the owner of a typical $130,000 home, the town tax levy will drop from $218 to $202. Thecounty levy, at $2.35 per $100, is expected to remain at $1,222.
The new water rate structure is tied directly to usage. Usage fees will be a minimum of $10 a quarter for the first 5,000 gallons used. From 6,000 to 21,000 gallons, an additional $1.40 for every 1,000 gallons will be charged. From 21,000 to 31,000 gallons, an additional $2.80 per 1,000 gallons will be assessed. And for more than 31,000 gallons, a charge of $4.80 per 1,000 gallons will be added.
Sewer rates jump from twice the water rate to 2.6 times the water rate.
For a typical household using about 18,000 gallons of water a quarter, the annual water bill would be about $113. The sewer bill would amount tomore than $294, for a combined annual levy of $407, or about $100 more than the current average.
A public hearing on the spending planand utility rates is set for 8 p.m. May 12. The rates would go into effect July 1.