MASSENA — The Massena Village Board will hold a public hearing on Dec. 17 to take comments on a proposed water rate increase.
Deputy Mayor Matthew J. LeBire told trustees on Tuesday that a rate increase was necessary to rebuild the water fund. Under a draft rate increase schedule, users in the village would see an increase from $3.95 to $4.70 for the first 3,000 gallons per month; from $3.35 to $3.99 for the next 17,000 gallons per month; and $2.60 to $3.09 for any excess of 20,000 gallons per month.
“That same percentage was used for the other two rate schedules,” Mr. LeBire said. “This is the minimum we felt would be appropriate to get the fund balance to where it needs to be long term.”
The last increase in water rates — the first since 2010 — was in 2015. That increase allowed them to build up the water fund to hold off future rate increases, but he said that’s depleted over time.
“We didn’t do the full increase. That was more based on calculations. We tend to try to keep an increase to every five or six years. We looked at some cost savings as well. We were actually able to get it to last,” he said.
“I think we’ve held our position very well for years,” Department of Public Works Superintendent Hassan A. Fayad said.
Mr. LeBire said the fund is supposed to be self-sustaining, but was becoming depleted.
“We’re at the point where action needs to be taken. We’ve worked together looking at what we needed projecting forward. This not only would put the water fund where it used to be, it should be enough to get us through a good period of time, another four to five years,” he said.
“If we did nothing today, with no increase at all, we’re looking at in 2020-21 a fund balance of $60,000,” Mr. Fayad said.
He said, since the last rate increase in 2015, the Department of Public Works had taken on a number of infrastructure projects such as pipe bursting, handling catastrophic failures, upgrading pipes and a number of pipe replacements.
“These (proposed) numbers do not include any capital projects or any catastrophes if something should happen,” Mr. Fayad said.
Mr. LeBire said that, while nobody likes an increase, the proposed rates would keep the village “well below the state average. It would still keep us as one of the lowest cost municipal water operations.”
He recommended they move forward with the public hearing, which will be held at 5:30 p.m. Mayor Timmy J. Currier said that, if the board elects to increase rates following the public hearing, it would likely take effect around Feb. 1.