“06880” reader John McCarthy posted a simple status update on Facebook:
Hearing some very disturbing things about huge increases in sewer fees in Westport, CT. Smelly business.
His friends quickly joined the fray.
“Probably based on water usage instead of a flat fee,” said Board of Finance member Charles W.K. Haberstroh. “Large increases will hurt certain businesses, like YMCA, restaurants, gyms, large families. Don’t know if there is a phase-in process. Haven’t heard, do you know?”
It does not seem usage-based, McCarthy replied. He cited someone married — with no kids — who faced a 28% increase.
McCarthy’s own family of 4 — “with no abnormal water usage” — saw its bill rise from $382 to $633.96, a 66% increase. “All that was supposed to happen,” he said, “was a re-allocation based on usage.”
Matthew Mandell — like McCarthy, an RTM member — posted that at the previous night’s meeting, “we heard the dope on this. Fees would have gone to $450 across the board. Debt service is part of the increase.
“Fee from now on will be based on water usage instead of one flat fee for all. Aquarion is providing the water numbers. So the more you shower, do clothes, do dishes and flush the more you pay to sewer it. Bigger houses and families more, empty nesters and small houses less.”
Jimmy Izzo’s bill went from $285 to $685. He wondered if the sewer bill is “a hidden way of paying pensions and other shortfalls.”
McCarthy responded with this info: “Usage charges are budgeted to increase 12% this year ($3.13 to $3.41 million).”
He cited 4 examples he’s heard, of increases ranging from 30% to 140%. “How do these increases average out to 12%” across the board, he asked.
“Individual usage varies a lot,” noted Haberstroh. Pools and/or lawn sprinkler systems will cause a “geometric” sewer bill increase.
McCarthy countered quickly: “Charlie, the rates were set based on the last Dec-May bills in order to exclude the impact of pools and lawn watering.”
The debate — and questions — continue. “06880” readers are invited to weigh in. Hold your noses — but don’t hold back.