Sewer rates edge up

BAR HARBOR — A proposed $1.3 million budget would require a 4.7 percent rise in sewer rates. It will be the subject of a public hearing before the town council on Monday, Oct. 20, beginning at 7 p.m.

For the typical, four-member residential household, this would result in a rise of approximately $2.20 per month, according to finance director Stan Harmon. The total annual cost for 8,000 cubic feet of usage, a typical amount for a four-member household, would rise from $561 to $587 under the proposal.

The largest growth in the proposed budget comes in the form of operating expenses, which are set to increase by $98,000 in the coming year, or 7.9 percent over the FY14 budget. The largest increases are in Maine State Retirement fund contributions, estimated health insurance increases, painting and testing. Wages are scheduled to increase by 1.5 percent.

The $1.1 million, five-year capital improvement plan includes construction and repair projects, equipment replacement and Route 3 reconstruction work.

Sewer officials plan to continue repairing mains, basins and service lines over the five-year plan in order to continue reducing infiltration and inflow. Year one includes replacing $220,000 worth of mains and services under roads slated for repair. Also slated is the installation of a generator at the Hulls Cove treatment plant

The capital plan includes $220,000 for sewer-related costs of the pending rebuild of Route 3 in FY 17, pump station replacements in years one, two and five, and replacement of a 60-year-old bucket machine in year three.

Sewer department officials continue to meet with state regulators over a federally mandated $7.5 million project to eliminate combined sewer overflows. The project was required by regulators several years ago, but local officials are fighting to postpone or even eliminate it.

The combined sewer overflows lead to sewer discharge being emptied into Frenchman Bay during storm events. In recent years, 99 percent of the overflows have been removed. Continued repair and replacement of lines is expected to impact and eliminate the remaining one percent, Harmon said, giving sewer officials good reason to ask for an extension.

Town councilors first met to review the sewer budget at the end of September, but held off until Oct. 7 so revisions could be made. Subsequently, sewer officials removed $70,000 from their budget request. Councilors on Oct. 7 passed the budget unanimously without discussion.

Robert Levin

Robert Levin

Former reporter Robert Levin covered the people, businesses, governmental and nonprofit agencies of Bar Harbor. [email protected]
Robert Levin

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