October 2, 2014

Sewer, water rates rise

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By Ben Moger-Williams
Observer Staff

The Williston Selectboard on Sept. 19 approved an increase in the sewer and water rates for the town, including the highest increase in sewer rates in 21 years.

The water rate went up from $1.95 per 1,000 gallons of usage to $2.00, an increase of 2.56 percent. The cost of sewer services rose from $2.40 per 1,000 gallons of usage to $2.70, an increase of 12.5 percent. The increases are effective retroactively to Aug. 1, to be included in the November billing cycle.

The rise in sewer cost is the largest percentage increase the town has seen since 1984, but Public Works Director Neil Boyden said the price is still “a bargain.” Boyden said Williston’s rates are at the low end of the cost scale for water and sewer rates of similar size towns. The sewer rate in 1984 was actually higher, $3.34 per 1,000 gallons used, according to a Public Works memo.

By comparison, the sewer rate in Burlington is $3.24 per 100 cubic feet, or about $4.30 per 1,000 gallons of use, according to the Burlington City Department of Public Works Web site.

Boyden said Williston’s increase was driven by an 11 percent rise in sewer treatment costs. Wastewater is treated by the tri-town sewer district, which treats water for the Town of Essex, the Village of Essex Junction and Williston. The Champlain Water District sells water at wholesale prices to 12 municipalities including Williston. The town in turn charges a retail price for the services to residents and businesses.

The average ratepayer will see a total increase of about $20 per year for the services, Boyden said.

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