LIVERMORE FALLS — Selectmen voted unanimously Tuesday to raise the base sewer rate by $5 to $55 per quarter. They also agreed to increase the per cubic foot of water used rate to 4.3 cents from 3.75 cents.

Town Manager Jim Chaousis alerted selectmen earlier this year that something needed to be done because the Sewer Department was not taking in enough revenue to cover expenses.

“It essentially boils down to we don’t collect enough in sewer rates to cover expenses that are paid out,” Chaousis said.

Selectmen set the rate in May the same as last year until information was reviewed with the intention of doing something in the next few months.

“If we’re going to change the sewer rates, it needs to be done before July 21,” he said.

He suggested the 10 percent increase in a base rate for each unit such as a single family residence and about a 20 percent increase in the cubic foot use rate.

The increase will simply bring the department up to sustainability, Chaousis said, which is the first step.

Chaousis referenced a letter from the town’s auditor, RHR Smith & Co., on a study the firm did of the Sewer Department as of June 30, 2005. A report was sent to the town in April 2006 that outlined recommendations for coming years.

“Our recommendation as it stands now is to fund the reserves as stated above and to keep rates of the sewer at the level they are maintained now,” Ron Smith wrote in 2006. At the time the base rate was $45 per quarter and $2.75 per cubic foot of water use.

He went on to advise the town to review this again in three years after capital infrastructure was reviewed in detail and a plan developed.

“On a further note, we recommend the town develop a capital plan to meet the needs of not only sewer users of the town but for the needs of the joint venture with the town of Jay,” Smith wrote. “In discussing growth and infrastructure with Kent (Mitchell, superintendent of the Sewer Department), and the unknown of replacement at any time, we are concerned that if the town not only depletes its reserves but does not adequately fund future capital reserves, it will make the task of developing a capital plan next to impossible.”

At the time, he recommended developing three-year, five-year and 10-year capital plans to meet the needs of the town.

Superintendent Kent Mitchell said since then costs to do business have risen. The sewer rate was not increased for about nine years prior to last year’s increase, he said.

There have also been some unexpected, expensive emergency repairs including a break on a sewer line on Franklin Road that involved the railroad.

The town has 15 miles of collection lines and most of them are close to a 100 years old, he said.

Expenses have just caught up to the rate, Mitchell said.

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