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Bristol sewer and water rates to go up July 1

BRISTOL — Bristol water and sewer rates will go up July 1 — water by a single-digit percentage, sewer by double digits.
Current water rates have been in place since 2013.
“At a certain point if you don’t increase rates you’re just kicking that can down the road,” explained Town Administrator Therese Kirby. “Prices go up because of inflation, electricity goes up, supply rates go up, your contract terms go up. Things increase. So rates need to increase to cover the operation and maintenance of the system.”
At its May 15 meeting, the selectboard voted to raise water rates by 7 percent. It also discussed the possibility of increasing the water rates every year based on the consumer price index, said Kirby.
“The selectboard in their capacity as sewer and water commissioners works hard  to keep the expenses down,” Kirby said. “The majority of the selectboard are water district users and understand how difficult it can be to have rate increases.”
The 7 percent hike was arrived at in consultation with RCAP Solutions (Resources for Community and People), a community development nonprofit that completed a study of Bristol’s water rates. Kirby said she worked with RCAP’s Mark Johnson, who put out a detailed, 13-page report analyzing Bristol’s water-rate structure and offering recommendations. The study looked at whether current revenues were adequate to cover the full cost of providing water service to the community.
The study determined that a “slight increase in rates would have been necessary” even without last year’s $1.1 million bond to make upgrades and extend town water. The study also concluded that “the adjustment (in water rates) is in line with typical rate increases throughout the industry. Fairness and affordability were also determined to be within industry guidelines for the proposed rate increase.”
Bristol’s water comes from a natural spring called the “New Haven Spring.” The town monitors the spring for its integrity.
The selectboard raised sewer rates 20 percent. The Bristol sewer system runs for about two blocks along South Street and Main Street. On South Street the sewer line runs roughly from the South Street Bridge to the intersection with West Street. On Main Street, the sewer line runs roughly from the intersection with North/South streets east to Mountain Street. The town leachfield is at the bottom of Basin Street, alongside the New Haven River. Kirby said 34 properties are tied into the town sewer system.
Minimum sewer charge will go from $144.50 per quarter to $173.28 per quarter for up to 100 gallons of average dairy flow (ADF).
The town usage charge: from $60 to $72 per quarter.
The town usage surcharge: from $120 to $144 per quarter.
The usage charge is applied to every 100 gallons of flow per day up to the user’s allocated ADF limit.
The usage surcharge is applied to every 100 gallons of daily flow in excess of the user’s allocated ADF limit.
Looking ahead, Kirby also that the selectboard is considering a proposal for the fiscal year 2019 budget to allocate $2,500 from the town’s General Fund to its Sewer Capital Fund. Such a request would then come before voters at town meeting.
“All town residents need Main Street to be vital,” said Kirby. “We all go to the restaurants, we all go to the shops and use the bathrooms, etc. So it seems that it would be a smart way to help because there are only 34 users and it’s just difficult to continue to pass on the cost to just these 34 users.”
Gaen Murphree is reached at [email protected].

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