Stonington Water Co. proposing rate increase

STONINGTON — The Stonington Water Co. is proposing a rate increase for its customers starting in 2018.

The water company met Monday before the Board of Selectmen’s regular twice monthly meeting.

Annaleise Hafford, senior engineer at Olver Associates, which manages the water company for Stonington, discussed the proposed increase.

The current rates are set on an annual water company budget of $214,000. But, expenses have increased.

“Now our budget is around $255,000,” Hafford said. “We’re making ends meet, but it’s close.”

However, the utility hasn’t had any funds to put in reserve.

Stonington’s water woes aren’t new.

The fishing village has been dealing for years with an aging and deteriorating water system infrastructure. The customer base has not been large enough to adequately fund maintenance expenses, much less capital improvements.

The system does have at least one sizable project on the horizon: a steel water tank needs to be repainted inside and out or replaced, according to Hafford.

“We’re talking half a million dollars to paint it,” Hafford said. “That’s not far off from the cost of replacing it.”

As yet, there’s no money in the current budget for the project and a water rate increase won’t be the sole answer, either. Hafford said she would seek grants to defray some of the cost.

Stonington Town Manager Kathleen Billings said “for the capacity that we have and what we do, $214,000 is not a lot of money, paying for the services, paying for the employees and all that.”

One water company customer, Bob Bartlett, questioned the fairness of the metering system.

Bartlett said he has two houses and two meters on one property. Yet there are businesses downtown that have multiple structures and just one meter installed.

Stonington Selectman John Robbins said those customers would still be paying more because they would be using more water.

“It goes by the water meter and the water used,” Hafford said.

The last increase was Jan. 1, 2014.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission would need to approve any water rate increase.

Jennifer Osborn

Jennifer Osborn

Reporter and columnist at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Jennifer Osborn covers news and features on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle-Stonington. She welcomes tips and story ideas. She also writes the Gone Shopping column. Email Jennifer with your suggestions at [email protected] or call 667-2576.

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