JAY — Selectmen voted to enter into an $11,800 contract with Wright-Pierce engineering to do a sewer-rate study.

Selectmen have been wrangling for years over paying for sewage costs and want to explore whether basing them on water use is the most equitable and feasible option, select board Chairman Steve McCourt said.

Currently, sewer users pay 35 percent of the cost while taxpayers pay 65 percent, Victor Krea, a representative of Wright-Pierce of Portland told selectmen Monday. The firm provides water, wastewater and infrastructure services to public and private clients.

Wastewater costs have increased at a rapid rate over the years, Krea said. “It’s getting out of control.”

In Jay, a one-person household pays the same amount as a larger household: $290 annually.

Krea would examine the existing rate structure, including the billing system and annual revenues and expenditures, project operating and maintenance costs for next five years, and estimate additional debt service requirements. Then he would develop a rate structure based on water use for comparison with the current structure and prepare a report. He estimated it would take three or four months to get a draft to the board.

“It would be just in time to set the sewer rates for next year,” Sewer Department Superintendent Mark Holt said. He said he could take the contract money from his operating budget.

In other business, selectmen voted to authorize Recycling Facility and Transfer Station coordinator Bob Sanders to buy a tractor with a bucket for $32,500 from Butch Craig & Son Inc. of Auburn. The money was budgeted in the department’s $104,177.18 capital account.

Selectmen also voted to enter into a 99-year-lease with the Andy Valley Riders Snowmobile Club for town land behind the Jay Plaza. The rent is $1 a year. Members intend to build a garage to store a groomer bought with town money. The building will also be used for repair work and club meetings. The club will be required to pay taxes on the building and carry $1 million personal injury and property insurance. If the club dissolves, the land and buildings will revert to the town.

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