Panel suggests dropping minimum-use water fee

April 23, 1993|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Staff Writer

The Manchester ad-hoc committee on water and sewers decided last night to ask the Town Council to abolish the 5,000-gallon minimum water charge.

However, the committee cannot make a recommendation on final water and sewer rates until the council decides whether to ++ give raises to water and wastewater employees.

Town Manager Terry Short said the new structure should allow the town to set water rates for five years at a time.

Committee member Joe Lovetro said, "What we're really trying to do is balance it out for the long term, rather than the short term."

He said the change would make it less likely that the town would need large water and sewer rate increases. Last summer, he said, "Everybody got kicked in the teeth with a big change."

Under the formula, some customers' rates doubled or even tripled last summer.

Wherever the rates end up, it is likely that people who use very little water or very much water will pay slightly less per gallon. Those who use average amounts will probably pay more.

Now all users are charged for 5,000 gallons of water, even if they use less. Those who use more water pay by 1,000-gallon increments. The more water used, the more expensive it is per 1,000 gallons.

Under the suggested system, all users would pay a set charge to cover the system's fixed costs. In addition, each user would pay a flat rate for every 1,000 gallons used. The rate would not increase for people who use more water.

For sewer service, under the current system, users pay a $22.50 flat charge plus 2.6 times their water bill.

Under the recommended system, the current $22.50 base charge for sewer service would be abolished. Instead, each user would pay a fixed fee designed to cover fixed costs. People will then pay a flat rate per 1,000 gallons of water used.

For example, if the water fixed charge were set at $9.50 and there were a price of $1.92 per 1,000 gallons metered, a person who uses the average 17,000 gallons a quarter would pay $42.14 a quarter for water.

For sewer service, if the fixed charge were set at $13 and sewer use were priced at $5.50 per 1,000 gallons, a person who uses the average 17,000 gallons a quarter would pay $106.50 a quarter.

LTC The total for water and sewer for the average user would be $148.64. That is more than the $119 that the average user pays under the current rate structure.

However, if a person uses only 2,000 gallons of water a quarter, under the proposed system the person would pay $37.34 for sewer and water. Under the current system, anyone who uses less than 5,000 gallons of water pays about $58.50 a quarter for sewer and water, Mr. Short said.

"[The proposed change is] particularly important to older people, who don't use a lot of water," Mr. Short said.

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