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BOARD RAISES SEWER RATES, REINSTATES FEE

Customers of the municipal sewer system can expect an increase in their quarterly bills this fall as part of a revenue plan enacted Monday by the Village Board.

Officials voted to add 3 percent to the quarterly sewer rates and to reinstate an annual peak usage fee charged in the first quarter.

The extra income will help the village pay for this summer's $430,000 replacement of its main trunk lines under Park and Maple streets, thereby removing about 500,000 gallons of peak flows coming to the treatment system.

Mayor Charles R. Coolidge said a joint sewer committee representing both the village and town governments has discussed the rate increase. The topic will likely be on the agenda for the committee's meeting Friday morning.

The budget for 2005-06 shows no additional sewer revenues above the $235,193 from village customers and $291,536 from town customers that were expected in 2004-05, but the new rate increase will likely add income to the sewer fund beginning in September.

Coolidge said the village has not metered its sewer lines in 15 years. He predicted that more trunk lines will be identified as needing replacement while measurements continue throughout the village.

The rate increase will spread out the cost of trunk line replacement, while the peak usage fee could curb the heavy flows normally seen during the skiing period of January through March, Coolidge said.

The most recent rate increase was in 2001, when the village had to borrow about half the cost of a project to improve the wastewater-treatment ordered by the state Department of Environmental Conservation because of long-standing discharge violations into Great Valley Creek.

At that time, residential customers were being charged a flat $8.40 assessment per quarter -- on top of the usual quarterly sewer tap rent -- to pay off the sewer line upgrades made in the 1990s in preparation for the treatment plant overhaul. In 2001, $11.40 was added to the $41.70 quarterly residential rate then in effect for the 15,000-gallon minimum.

Figures detailing the rate increase were not immediately available, but this year's hike could add less than $2 per quarter to the residential rate.

In 1991, senior citizens saw a $5.70 increase to their discounted rate of $26.55 per quarter for minimum usage, in addition to the flat $4.20 debt assessment.

Commercial and industrial sewer taps were charged an extra $57 beginning in 1991 over the former rate of $265.50 per quarter for a minimum volume of 75,000 gallons, in addition to a $42 quarterly fee for system-improvement debt.

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