JAY — Selectpersons unanimously voted Monday to keep the minimum sewer rate at $250 for up to 3,200 cubic feet of water used but increase the charge for using more than the minimum a half-cent to make it 7 cents per cubic foot.

The new rate will go into effect on July 1 and will be in effect until June 30, 2015.

Sewer Department Superintendent Mark Holt previously projected that 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, he said earlier in January.

The town changed the way it charged for sewer from a per-unit fee system to a structure based on water use in 2011-12. The goal is to have the rate cover 100 percent of the department’s operation and maintenance budget by sewer users, Holt said.

It was initially supposed to be done within five years, he said.

The rest of the budget is covered through general taxation.

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The board set the rate after a public hearing.

During the hearing resident Jeff Nadeau of North Jay said he had a problem with the way the sewer rate is set. He said he is being punished for conserving water.

Nadeau, who said he uses about 700 cubic feet of water per quarter, asked that the minimum use be increased from 3,200 cubic feet to 4,000 cubic feet, to be similar to the North Jay Water District’s minimum amount.

If someone is using zero to 3,200 cubic feet, they would pay $250. If the minimum use was raised to 4,000 cubic feet, the bills for those that use over that amount would increase significantly, Holt said.

The town’s residents are served by three water districts, he said. They all have different minimums, have different amounts of debt and use different formulas to arrive at the amount water district customers pay, he said.

Town Manager Ruth Cushman pointed out that the water districts have nothing to do with the town. They are separate entities from the town and separate entities from each other, she said.

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A Sewer Committee consisting of three residents who had sewer service and three residents who did not, plus two selectmen, the town manager and Holt took nearly two years to develop a recommendation to selectpersons on how to charge for sewer.

The Sewer Committee recommended that the rate progress to get the Sewer Department more self-reliant on revenues that come in, Cushman said.

If the minimum is raised, it will hurt the people like Nadeau and older people on fixed incomes, she said.

Holt said he saw Nadeau’s point, but the increase would affect a lot of sewer users in a negative way.

Nadeau pressed for the minimum amount to be increased.

“If it comes in for a minimum, it should go out for a minimum,” he said, referring to the differences in the water rate and the sewer rate.

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Cushman said her problem is that they are dealing with three different water districts and if they satisfy Nadeau’s request, others will come forward from other districts and want their minimums changed.

The reason the Sewer Committee went with the 3,200 cubic fee is that they looked at a number of bills for people who were retired and on a fixed income and that amount worked, Holt said.

The minimum amount has worked well, Cushman said.

The new method is working, Holt said. Those who use more, pay more and those who use less, pay less, he said.

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