JAY — The sewer rate for those using over the base amount will rise slightly as of July 1.

Selectmen voted Monday to increase the sewer rate by a half-cent to 6.5 cents per cubic foot for water use over the minimum 3,200 cubic feet. They left the base amount of $250 for 3,200 cubic feet of water use alone.

The increase is anticipated to raise about $403,000 in revenue and pay about 75 percent of the operation and maintenance costs of the Jay Sewer Department.

The remainder of the costs of the Sewer Department are paid for through town-wide taxation.

The town went from a per-unit fee system to a rate structure based on water use in 2011-12 in an effort to ease the burden on taxpayers and have sewer users pay for what they use to help cover operation and maintenance costs.

Prior to making a decision on the rate, the board held a public hearing on the rates to hear from residents. 

Sewer Department Superintendent Mark Holt said that his rate estimates were based on his budget and everything else staying the same as projected in the current year’s budget. He expects his budget to be slightly higher for the coming year, he said.

Resident Al Landry said it was not fair to sewer users to go up so much on the rate for those who use the town’s sewer system.

Selectman Pearl Cook said that she has to maintain her own septic system and still has to contribute tax dollars to the town for a sewer system.

“That’s a poor excuse,” Landry said.

Cook said she would be making a motion to raise the rate a half-cent for water use more than 3,200 cubic feet.

Selectman Tim DeMillo questioned if the rates should be raised due to everything else increasing. He noted that a new $1.8 million addition was just approved by voters for the high and middle schools, and possibility of adding a resource officer in school is under consideration.

He didn’t disagree with Cook’s thought process, he said, but he would recommend staying the same and wouldn’t be falling behind.

If you leave it alone, you would be going backwards, Town Manager Ruth Cushman said, due to Holt’s projection that his budget will go up.

If you go with 6.5 cents it will probably flat line, Holt said.

He also mentioned that the Livermore Falls Wastewater Treatment Plant, for which Jay shares the cost, will need more than the bar screen being looked at now. The cost of that repair is estimated at up to $200,000.

Calculations indicated that if the rates were raised a half-cent it would cover about 75 percent of the operation and maintenance budget, Cushman said. Initially it was expected to cover about 77 percent.

“I’d just like to see you fellows go up at least to 6.5 percent,” resident Ellen Levesque said.

The taxpayers out in the country are paying more than their fair share, she said.

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