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BCWA calling for 12 percent rate hike

By   /   December 11, 2012  /   2 Comments

Bristol County Water Authority officials will propose a 12 percent rate hike. A public hearing will be held on Dec. 20.

The Bristol County Water Authority will host a public hearing on a potential rate hike next Thursday night, Dec. 20.

BCWA Executive Director Pamela Marchand said the possible rate hike of 12 percent would equate to a $5 per month or ($60 per year) increase for the average BCWA customer who uses about 52,000 gallons of water each year.

The possible rate increase mirrors a 12 percent revenue increase identified in the BCWA’s current financial plan. The financial plan also calls for four consecutive years of 4 percent revenue increases beginning in March 2014 though potential rate increases associated with raising this revenue had yet to be determined as of this report.

Ms. Marchand spoke to the potential rate hike during an informational meeting held Tuesday morning for Bristol, Warren and Barrington officials. The session also touched on the BCWA’s capital plan, a driving factor behind the potential rate hike. The capital plan includes improvements and renovations to storage tanks, water mains and instrumentation systems.

The plan has a total cost of about $18.4 million over the next five years. Revenue, meanwhile, has shown a downward trend over the last 10 years. Ms. Marchand also said a chunk of every customer’s water bill is tied to the re-payment of bonds that were issued to fund a cross-bay pipeline, which connected the BCWA to water from the Scituate Reservoir.

On the flip-side of revenue, Ms. Marchand said the BCWA has taken steps to limit expenses including re-financing existing debt to less than 2 percent interest, discontinuing the use of the Child Street treatment plant (it still runs one day a month as a back-up) and a negotiating a collective bargaining agreement with employees that contains savings in post-employment benefits, among other areas.

Pawtucket tie-in

A potential connection to the Pawtucket water system was another facet of Tuesday’s presentation.

Ms. Marchand said the Bristol County Water Act requires the maintenance of a redundant water supply from Massachusetts. She said the agency needs legislative assistance to allow this redundant supply to come from Pawtucket and local town councils might be able to help by passing resolutions in support of the proposal. 

A study examining the engineering requirements of connecting the BCWA to Pawtucket through East Providence is currently underway. The study has about a $225,000 cost. It’s funding includes a 25 percent contribution from both the BCWA and East Providence, along with a 50 percent contribution from the state.

But even if the legislation is amended to allow for the switch to Pawtucket the BCWA wouldn’t be able to fund the project independently. Director John Jannitto said the state currently has a $6.9 million bond slated to maintain the redundant supply in Massachusetts though the BCWA would like to see these funds used for the Pawtucket connection project.

Ms. Marchand said the BCWA also needs legislative assistance with codifying a number of regulation changes into law. Modifications to BCWA regulations were studied and approved by each town council last year though the amendments have not yet been approved by the General Assembly.

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2 Comments

  1. CM says:

    The East Bay is now paying the second-highest rates in the state. Is it really fair that we should pay 12% more? I think that the state needs to step in and take over the BCWA. Water rates should be averaged across the state so that no one community is victimized.

  2. Just got back from out of town. I have heard that the BCWA is planning on hiring two more executives at $100,000 plus benefits. One will be a project manager (I thought this was in the job description of the Operations Manager) and one will be an MIS person. Guess their salary is built into the rate hike.

    I know that they are asking for the three towns to approve new legislation which re-allocates the 6.9 million that was for completing the Shad and other projects. I would sincerely hope that the three towns don’t even consider approving this legislation until the legislation that Tony Teixiera’s ad hoc committee worked so hard on last year, is passed. This contained revisions to the BCWA Supply Act that covered terms of office of directors, mandatory bid process for legal and other services every three years, stipulates that both chairman AND vice-chairman are elected (and must be from separate towns), along with six or seven more vital revisions. This legislation somehow got “lost” on an attorney’s desk and was never presented last June. When it surfaced this year it had NONE of the vital changes included, save for one minor one. In my opinion, this must be passed before any other legislation is added.

    There will be a public hearing on the rate hike on December 20th. I hope that many concerned rate-payers will attend.

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