Public silent; council hikes sewer rates

LACONIA — Following a public hearing at which no member of the public spoke, the City Council last night unanimously agreed to increase sewer rates 11-percent each year for the next three years.
The current quarterly charge of $30 will rise to $32.50 in 2014, to $33.25 in 2015 and to $34 in 2016 while the consumption charge of $3.69 per hindered cubic feet (HCF), or 748 gallons will increase to $3.69, $4.19 and $4.75 over the same period. The increases will apply to all 9,894 metered customers while the non-metered flat rate for sewer-only accounts will increase from $340 to $412 as of July 1, 2014 and to $452 as of July 1, 2015.
Finance Director Donna Woodman projects that for metered properties, the average residential sewer bill, based on annual consumption of 120 HCF, will rise from $516 to $572.80 in 2014, $635.80 in 2015 and $706 in 2016, or by 11 percent each year.
The rates support the Sanitary Sewer Fund, which finances the operating expenses and capital outlays of the system. At the current rates the fund is running an annual deficit of more than $600,000 and Finance Director Donna Woodaman projected that without a rate increase the surplus in the fund would be exhausted in two or three years. She projects that the new rate schedule will shrink the deficit to $287,711 in 2014 and to $69,442 in 2015 before returning a positive balance of $180,994 in 2016.
In 2007 rates were increased for the first time in 17 years. Rates were raised again in 2010.