Housatonic Water Works rates to jump 33.3 percent over two years
This story has been modified to correct the amount of the total rate increase and add the size of the rate increase initially sought by the utility.
GREAT BARRINGTON — Customers in the Housatonic Water Works should see a hefty jump in their water rates — but not as high as the utility may have wanted.
The Select Board and utility agreed to the new rate structure on Monday night as a compromise.
"We were looking for a happy medium between the needs of the water works and the people in the service," said Selectman Ed Abrahams.
The compromise calls for a phased-in rate increase. On Nov. 1, rates will jump 19.3 percent, or an average of $6.93 per average household use. A year later, the rates will increase by additional 9.3 percent. This will bring the rates up by a total of 30.3 percent from current rates.
The utility had initially asked for a total increase of 33.3 percent.
The increase is still subject to approval from the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, which has the final say on the matter. Select Board Chairman Sean Stanton said the department will have a public comment period in which the public can have their voices heard.
The Select Board met in executive session to discuss the increase.
Town Counsel Lauren Goldberg said because the rate session involved a matter that would eventually go before the state's Department of Public Utilities, the negotiations fell under "litigation."
The board seemed pleased with the compromise reached with the water works. Selectman Steve Bannon said the rate increase would be directly tied to capital improvements that will improve water quality for customers.
"There was a last-hour copper and lead problem that raised the capital improvement need," Bannon said. He said in order to ensure less corrosion in residential pipes, the company will add chlorination to the water and reduce the size of the water tanks.
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