DIXFIELD — A public notice to residents was discussed Jan. 9 regarding an impending sewer rate increase, with about a dozen people attending.
The new sewer rate schedule is effective April 1, 2023 to conform with the town’s first quarter billing cycle.
This new rate is intended to increase the town’s quarterly user revenues to $14,878.39 and annual revenues to $59,513.56 in 2023, representing a 33 percent increase in total user revenue.
Town Manager Alicia Conn said, “Eventually, this sewer rate increase will lead to a point where we can save and not have to run into these costly repairs so immediately. We’re in a big hole right now. We are trying to dig ourselves out. At a certain point, we’re hoping to have money we can set aside to put towards upgrades, replacements, the normal wear and tear on the system, everything that needs to be done on a timely basis so we’re not scrambling at the last minute.”
Resident Nancy Carpenter asked if there was a plan to looking at block grants in the future for improvements to the sewer system’s infrastructure.
Conn responded that that is always an option, “but right now we’re more focused on getting that one project completed (the waste pump station), which we can’t use any additional funding for.”
Select Board member Norm Mitchell added, “The rate increase, really what you’re looking at is being able to maintain the system. Get to the point where the system can run and be maintained. It’s not for doing major projects like the Hall Hill Pump Station.”
Carpenter asked that when this increase goes into effect, how does Dixfield’s rate compare to other towns and are similar in population.
Mitchell responded, “It’s my understanding that it’s still lower than other comparable towns.”
Conn noted that Dixfield does bill on a consumption basis rather than a flat rate that towns like Mexico charge.
The increase is necessitated to cover costs for operational cost increases, additional debt service payments and to fund future needs of the town’s sewer infrastructure.
Increases by customer types are as follows:
* Residential (2023) — $12,169.50 per quarter, $48,678 annually, 33 percent;
* Commercial (2023) — $2,708.89 per quarter, $10,835.56 annually, 33 percent.
Mitchell said this increase won’t be voted on by the taxpayers as the previous board voted for this increase in July of 2021, but the rates never changed because a hearing did not take place to notify the public.
Select Board member Pete Holman added, “It’s been done for a couple of years, but never put into effect. At that time, we were having trouble with town managers.”
Conn said in accordance with an ordinance, the discretion of a rate increase rests with the Select Board, not the public.
Mitchell said the Select Board is also the board of directors for the sewer department.

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