WILTON — The Wilton select board approved the water and sewer budgets for 2023 on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at their select board meeting. Water and Wastewater Superintendent Heinz Grossman was at the meeting to present both budgets to the select board.

“As you guys know, we’re raising the rates for the next two years and we’re trying to prepare for the water main transmission line [project],” Grossman stated. “Taking that into account, we just kept everything very, very bare bones.”

The budget is so bare bones, they don’t have enough to allocate towards tools, Grossman added.

For water, Grossman estimates roughly $649,100 in expenses for 2023, with the same amount estimated in revenue. Wages, benefits, and materials/supplies were among some of the highest expenditures from the department, with $100,000 also being allocated to a project on Pleasant St. in East Wilton.

This section of Pleasant St. in East Wilton is going to have the current piping system replaced as well as adding a fire hydrant in the near future. The plan was discussed at the Wilton select board meeting Tuesday, Feb. 21. Brian Ponce/Franklin Journal

“The five years I’ve been here, we’ve done like three repairs on that road,” Grossman stated. “It’s just been a problem. We have six-inch line going up [Temple Rd.] and a six-inch line going up [Railroad St.]. We got a two-inch line going up [Pleasant St.], so we just intend to increase that to a six-inch line and add a hydrant there.”

Select person Mike Well asked if the Pleasant St. project would be contracted. Grossman assured him they would be doing the work themselves.


“I looked into bidding it out,” Grossman said. “Cost just goes up exponentially because we’re going to be putting in an HDPE [high-density polyethylene] pipe because of the soil there. We’ve got a lot of clay and that just eats apart steel pipes.

“When I looked around and I made my calls and I was talking to people with the cost of getting it out was a lot more. It is a lot cheaper for us to do it ourselves,” he added.

Grossman estimates two weeks for the project, though he admits he is overestimating the time frame to account for any issues that may occur during the project. “If it can go wrong, it usually will in spades, so if I figure a week, it will take us two.” he said.

The project will also call for welding HDPE pipe, which Grossman said cuts the estimated cost to a tenth of what was estimated from outside contractors. “Just talking to them cost me money,” he added.

For the sewer budget, Grossman estimates $1,055,134 in expense with $811,675 estimated in revenue, which sparked the discussion over sewer rates increase.

In his expense report, Grossman estimated a 25% to 30% increase in rates would be needed to offset the estimated budget. One of the biggest expenses in the report was $200,000 in the disposal of sludge that could contain “forever chemicals” commonly referred to as PFAS, or perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances.


This increase was predicted by Grossman in August of last year and, much to his reluctance, it became accurate.

“For the last six months since July, we’ve been hauling our sludge out because of the new regulations,” Grossman stated. “I figured when I came to talk to you guys about it then, I threw some numbers out that seemed pretty high at the time. Unfortunately, it was pretty right on.”

Since the new regulations came, Wilton has been shipping sludge to Madison for processing. In the six months since then, it has cost $100,000 to ship and receive the sludge according to Grossman. He estimates it will cost $200,000 for the year 2023.

“We need some relief on this,” Wells stated to the board. “200 grand for the taxpayers?”

According to Town Manager Perry Ellsworth, it will get better before it gets worse. He also recounted a statute that was passed in the 1970s that stated there would be no more unfunded mandates in the state of Maine.

“This is an unfunded mandate, folks, and we’ve had a gazillion of them,” Ellsworth stated to the board. “We never get any money to help us out with this.”


Wells asked Ellsworth if the statute has been rescinded since then.

“It’s been ignored,” Ellsworth said.

Ellsworth and the select board tabled the discussion for another meeting, with Grossman sharing his concerns over the effect a potential rate increase will have on people living on fixed incomes.

“The question is how steep and how fast are we updating,” Grossman asked. “My concern is always the fixed income retirees. That’s my number one concern at all times.”

The board voted unanimously for both budgets with discussion over sewer rates increase slated to appear before the board in the near future.

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