Another Water Rate Hearing Jan. 3
The Bristol County Water Authority will pitch its double-digit rate hike proposal again next week in Warren.
A second public hearing on a proposal to raise water rates in Bristol County by 12 percent this year and 31 percent over five years will be held next Thursday, Jan. 3.
The meeting will be held in the Warren Town Hall. It will start at 6 pm.
The first public hearing was held last Thursday, Dec. 20, at Mt. Hope High School in Bristol. Only a handful of people turned out, according to a story in eastbayri.com.
Still, the BCWA board of directors reportedly got an earful from the few people who did attend the hearing, according to the eastbayri.com story. Among the attendees were Barrington Town Councilor Bill DeWitt and Bristol Rep. Raymond Gallison.
DeWitt repeated a contention he made at the most recent Barrington Town Council meeting that the timing of the water rate hike is not good.
Board members plan to vote on the rate hike on Jan. 9, less than a week after the second public hearing, to accommodate several anticipated vacancies on the board in February when it typically votes on rate adjustments.
The vote will undo any goodwill the authority has acquired since hiring its new executive director, Pamela Marchand, said DeWitt, and while trying to improve the reputation and outreach of the often maligned authority.
“As positive an accomplishment as (the community program) is, you’re going to lose all that you gain by jamming (a rate increase) through” to accommodate vacancies, he said.
Gallison said: “With this meeting tonight, to me, you’re the Grinches that stole Christmas. Look at the ability of people to pay in the Bristol County area. They can’t afford it.”
Click here to see the complete story on the first public hearing.
The rate hikes are needed because the Bristol County Water Authority reportedly is in bad financial shape. Marchand delivered that message to the town councils of Barrington, Warren and Bristol on Dec. 19, in Barrington Town Hall. See the Patch story on that meeting.
“We’re not in a good financial situation right now,” Marchand said. “We will run out of cash by the end of next year” without a significant boost in revenue to pay for operating and capital expenses.
Marchand spent most of the meeting outlining the water authority’s new strategic plan, which was crafted based on a “situational analysis” that shows an aging infrastructure, a single water source, declining demand for water, and outdated management systems.
The board has set goals, therefore, to maintain a secure source of high-quality water, address infrastructure that is 100 years old in some cases, improve management systems, ensure financial stability, and improve customer relations.
“Those goals are all interrelated,” Marchand said. “They must be met together.”
All of the above requires a boost in revenue, which has been dropping because rate payers have been conserving water.