The options presented by Water and Wastewater Superintendent Heinz Grossman to the select board on Tuesday, March 7, at the Wilton Select Board meeting. With the new regulation on the disposal of sludge potentially contaminated with PFAS chemicals, Grossman’s estimated sewer budget for 2023 is much higher than anticipated. Brian Ponce/Franklin Jounral

WILTON — The Wilton Select Board voted to raise sewer rates by 15% on Tuesday, March 8, at their meeting. With the budget outweighing the revenue from the department, Water and Wastewater Superintendent Heinz Grossman was forced to come up with possible solutions.

Grossman presented two potential solutions:

1. A flat 30% increase in sewer rates.

2. A 15% increase in sewer rates with $100,000 allocated from the sewer account to offset the remaining shortfall.

Grossman recommended the second option, stating “I leaned towards number two, just to try to soften the blow to everybody in town.”

“As I always say, the people that I’m most concerned about are our fixed income residents, the retirees, the people,” Grossman added. “They ain’t getting any more money. That’s what they got, and this is what affects them the most.


The issue arose during the select board meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 21, when Grossman submitted the projected 2023 water and sewer budget for approval.

In his presentation, Grossman noted the discrepancy between the projected sewer budget [$1,055,134] and the estimated revenue [$811,675], which amounted to over $240,000 less in revenue.

Grossman attributed the discrepancy to the passing of Maine Legislature L.D. 1911 “An Act to Prevent the Further Contamination of the Soils and Waters of the State with So-called Forever Chemicals.”

The bill prohibits “the spreading or composting of industrial or municipal sludge after farms where sludge had been spread through a state-licensed program – some dating as far back as the 1970s – began to test positive for high levels of harmful forever chemicals, or PFAS,” the Portland Press Herald stated in July of last year.

The Wilton select board previously raised concerns of the financial impact of these mandates, with former Selectperson Tom Saviello and former town manager Rhonda Irish sharing these concerns at a meeting in March of last year. Saviello, along with the rest of the select board at the time passed a motion to send a letter to Gov. Janet Mills expressing concerns about a bill in the Maine Legislature that aims to protect residents from certain toxic substances, but that could increase costs to the town by thousands of dollars annually.

The select board approved a 10% staggered increase of the water rates in November of last year with the intent of potentially bringing federal grant funding into the town to help with the water transmission line project. With the deficit of the sewer budget higher than expected, raising the sewer rates has become inevitable.


Grossman predicted the increase in sewer rates at an August select board meeting and even presented an estimate that he had hoped would be much higher than he anticipated.

“For the last six months since July, we’ve been hauling our sludge out because of the new regulations,” Grossman stated at the Feb. 21 meeting. “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.”

With the new laws surrounding the processing of waste potentially contaminated by PFAS chemicals, the estimated expenses to process the outgoing sludge to Madison came to roughly $200,000, according to Grossman’s report.

In the previous Feb. 21 meeting, Town Manager Perry Ellsworth called the piece of legislature an unfunded mandate, and that it was in violation of a statute passed in the 1970s that prohibits 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 at the meeting. “We never get any money to help us out with this.”

Selectperson Tiffany Mauri made a motion to pass the 15% rate increase, with the board members present passing it unanimously.

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