JAY — Selectpersons have scheduled a public hearing for Jan. 27 to discuss sewer rates before they set them for 2014-15.

The hearing will be held at 6 p.m. at the Town Office.

The current rate is $250 for 3,200 cubic feet of water used per year. Any additional water consumed over the minimum 3,200 cubic feet is 6.5 cents per cubic foot. The latter amount increased by a half-cent in July 2013 from the previous year.

The town changed the method of charging for sewer use from a per unit fee system to a structure based on water use in 2011-12.

Before changing the billing structure, a Sewer Rate Committee was formed to review all options. The reason for the change was to have customers who used the sewer system less to pay less and for those who used it more to pay more, Sewer Department Superintendent Mark Holt said.

The sentiment of the committee and Board of Selectpersons was to gradually increase the sewer rate with the goal of eventually raising enough revenue to cover the operation and maintenance costs of the Sewer Department, he said in a memo to selectpersons.

People have been using less water since the town changed the method to calculate sewer bills, Holt told selectpersons Monday night

The projected operation and maintenance costs in the current year are about $550,440. Sewer revenues are projected at about $394,880, he said.

“Therefore, for 2013-14, approximately 72 percent of the (operation and maintenance) costs were covered by the sewer revenues,” Holt said.

The department replaced sewer lines on Dubord Street and Western Avenue last year. Usually, the department only does one road a year, he said.

For 2014-15, the projected operation and maintenance cost is estimated at $540,000 and the debt service is $293,200, for a total anticipated Sewer Department budget of $833,200, he said.

“If the sewer rate remains at 6.5 cents for use over 3,200 cubic feet with a minimum use cost of $250, sewer fees will cover about 75 percent of the operation and maintenance portion of the budget and 49 percent of the total Sewer Department budget,” Holt said.

The rest of the budget is covered by general taxation.

He gave selectpersons information on different rate scenarios to review that were based on keeping the minimum base rate the same for next year.

Among the scenarios were if 6 cents was charged per cubic foot use over the 3,200-cubic-foot minimum, it would generate about $389,250 and cover about 72 percent of the operation and maintenance budget. The average bill would be $370, the data indicated.

If the rate remained the same as the current year at 6.5 cents for water used above the base rate, it would generate about $404,750 and cover about 75 percent of the operation and maintenance budget. The average bill would be $380.

If the rate was raised to 7 cents over the 3,200-cubic-foot minimum, it would generate about $420,250 and cover about 78 percent of the operation and maintenance budget. It would mean the average bill would be $390.

Holt’s scenarios ranged from 5 cents to 10.9 cents for water used in excess of 3,200 cubic feet.

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