WILTON — As work progresses on the $10.8 million sewer treatment plant renovation, the Board of Selectpersons is contemplating the next rate increase to help cover costs.

The increase is likely to occur soon so that repayment of loans can start next year and continue for the next 30 years, Town Manager Rhonda Irish said.

Discussions have centered on whether to ask the town to contribute $30,000 as it has done for the first phase of the project or perhaps even more.

Normally, the sewer system depends on ratepayers to cover operations, maintenance and repayment of loans for upgrades like sewer lines.

“The town was asked and is still being asked to cover $30,000 toward the upgrade,” Irish said. “Now the question before the board is if they want to consider more from the town to go toward paying off the debt.”

The reasoning for the request is that “Wilson Lake, which is a recreation area used by the public, is cleaner because of the waste treatment system,” she said. “Also, business development along Route 2 is enhanced because of the waste treatment system.”

As trustees of the Sewer Department, the board needs to make a recommendation prior to work on the annual budget and so that notices on the amount of the increases can be sent to ratepayers, she said. 

There are 944 ratepayers, 40 of them businesses, Irish told the board Tuesday. There are 1,776 residences in Wilton, with nearly half the town on the sewer system.

In 2012, a minimal user’s bill went from $64 to about $104 per quarter. It was the first rate increase since 1987.  

Taxpayers voted to pay $30,000 to help keep the rate down, which means minimal customers pay $439.78 annually to cover Phase 1 loan debt, operations and maintenance.

Continuing with $30,000 from taxes, that annual amount for ratepayers would jump to $737.43 to cover debt on three loans, maintenance and operations, according to the options considered by the board. From that $737.43, $500.47 would cover loan debt on the $10.86 million project.

If the amount supplied by the town increased to nearly $60,000, the minimal ratepayer would see a slight reduction to $709.15 per year.

Doubling the amount from taxes helps the sewer bill, but one member previously thought customers would still face “sticker shock.”

The board wanted more information about the number of resident and business accounts and their usage, which is based on water consumption.

They also asked to hear from residents before making a decision. Use of taxpayer funds requires approval by voters at the annual town meeting in June.

Built in 1978, the plant exceeded a 20-year life expectancy. An overhaul of 31 pump stations was completed in 2012 in Phase 1 of the project. Renovation of the plant started last year and is funded by a combination of grants and loans.

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