Sewer rates to rise 1.9%, water rate flat

BAR HARBOR — No rate increase is planned for water rates here, but sewer rates are proposed to increase by 1.9 percent.

The proposed water and sewer budgets for fiscal year 2020 were introduced at last week’s town council meeting, and will be open for discussion at a public hearing on Aug. 6.

Town Finance Director Stan Harmon and Public Works Director Chip Reeves introduced the two budgets at the July 16 town council meeting. For the water budget, Harmon and Reeves project a slight increase in operating cost, but not enough for it to affect the cost to consumers.

The proposed rates and calculated average customer bills remain constant, at $111.53 per quarter for the typical household of four people.

Reeves told the councilors he does expect increases in the future. He is considering adding personnel for water meter maintenance, and will be proposing capital improvements in next year’s budget.

Adding a water tank for a newly approved subdivision on Hamilton Hill “isn’t figured into this [year’s] budget,” Reeves told councilors, “and we’re still negotiating” on a cost for the future project.

The proposed 1.9-percent increase in the sewer rates will go to “capital expenses and operating expenses, [including] water treatment costs and plan repairs.”

Under new rates of $7.95 per 100 cubic feet, Harmon said, a typical quarterly sewer bill for a household of four would be about $156.

Reeves said he anticipates that the town will need sewer system upgrades in the near future. It has been more than 20 years since the last sewer upgrade. The system also needs work to eliminate combined sewer overflows (CSO), as mandated by the Department of Environmental Protection.

Harmon said those costly upgrades will be bond issues in future years.

“We’re facing a lot of major capital investments across the town in the next couple of years, the school being a big one,” Councilor Gary Friedmann said, “and I think it’s going to be tough for the council to figure out how to handle all those competing demands on our citizens.”

Both budgets are available for review at the town clerk’s office, or on the town of Bar Harbor’s website under the public works section.

Becky Pritchard
Former Islander reporter Becky Pritchard covered the town of Bar Harbor and was a park ranger in Acadia for six seasons.
Becky Pritchard

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