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Dalton Select Board Approves 19% Sewer Rate Increase
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
12:58PM / Thursday, August 11, 2022
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DALTON, Mass. — The Select Board approved a 19 percent increase in sewer rates for fiscal 2023 on Monday.

With the current rate of $3.53 bi-annual metered rate per 1,000 gallons and an annual flat rate of $394, the town would be in an almost $172,000 deficit. Officials say this warranted the increase.

The bi-annual metered rate is estimated to be about $4.21 and the annual flat rate is estimated to increase by about $75.

"It's clear that there has to be an increase and this is due to the intergovernmental expense, the Pittsfield water treatment," Town Manager Tom Hutcheson said.

"This is actually the first year I think in a while we've got a hard estimate from the city and that's great, the problem being the estimate is a lot of money, about $230,000 roughly, so that's a substantial increase and that's what's leading to if we kept the same rate, that would be the $172,000 deficit."

In March, the Pittsfield City Council approved a 10 percent increase in water rates and a 12 percent increase in sewer rates per year for fiscal years 2022 and 2023. As the provider for Dalton's water, this raised the FY22 estimated bill to more than $1.1 million, which is a nearly $230,000 increase from FY21's around $938,000.

The city's rates last increased in 2019, when residents saw a 10 percent water increase and a 50 percent sewer increase.  

With the 19 percent increase, the town will have an estimated surplus of about $32,000, which is less than a third of what it expects to ask for its sewer stabilization fund that is intended to protect it against increases from Pittsfield or elsewhere.   

The finance team originally asked for a 20 percent increase and then dropped it down to 18 percent.  The Select Board decided on a rate that was in between.

An 18 percent increase would have just covered Pittsfield's rate increase.

The board also accepted three articles for a special town meeting on Aug. 29.

Article 1 is raise and appropriates an additional $130,874 for the transfer station expenses that were not accounted for at the annual town meeting or the special town meeting on June 27 plus funds for an appraisal of the Bardin land in preparation for selling it.  It requires a majority vote.

Article 2 is to borrow an additional $162,477 to $200,427 for Town Hall renovations based on a cost estimate for asbestos removal, reconstruction of the second-floor ceiling, and abating asbestos-containing plaster in two third-floor offices. It requires a two-thirds vote.

Article 3 is to transfer $146,100 from the General Stabilization Fund to supplement the borrowing authorization passed by the town for the Division Road reconstruction. It also requires a two-thirds vote.


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