ROTTERDAM — Residents in Water District No. 5 will see a cheaper water bill next month than initially anticipated due to an error during the budget-making process that lawmakers corrected earlier this month.
When lawmakers approved the 2023 operating budget last year, residents in Water District No. 5 were expected to pay $137.85 for their annual June water bill — a $20 reduction from the previous year’s bill of $157.89. That rate was set after the Town Board agreed to use $239,901 from the district’s fund balance to reduce the rate.
But the budget only accounted for 10,068 residents and not the full 13,970 that make up the town’s largest water district.
The additional 3,902 residents will reduce next month’s water bill to $97.18, a decrease of $40.67 or 29.5% from the previously projected rate, according to a resolution approved unanimously by town lawmakers earlier this month. Water bills are expected to be sent out at the end of this month.
Supervisor Mollie Collins said the error was due to a miscommunication between the town’s comptroller and assessors office, but lawmakers acted as soon as they learned of the mistake.
“It was maybe just a matter of miscommunication between departments where something wasn’t picked up right away,” she said.
But the reduced rates aren’t expected to last.
Lawmakers, last year, authorized up to $34 million in borrowing to address long standing water infrastructure issues throughout Water District No. 5, including the installation of a new well and 17,000 linear feet of new pipe.
Water main breaks have been a common occurrence throughout the district over the years, often resulting in snarled traffic and boil water advisories.
But the project will have a considerable impact on water rates, which Collins said could begin appearing as early as next year. A final impact on water rates is still unclear.
Rates could balloon to between $295 and $316, depending on grant funding, according to a study completed last year by Barton & Loguidice, an Albany-based engineering firm the town hired to examine the potential impacts the project would have on taxpayers.
The town is hoping to secure grant funding to offset the costs of the project, but has so far been unsuccessful.
Lawmakers this month selected Barton & Loguidice to oversee the project, which Collins said could break ground as early as next year.
Town officials are expected to meet with engineers from Barton & Loguidice to develop a list of priorities in the coming weeks to determine what issues needed to be addressed first, she said.
“That part, I would say, is going to take us the rest of the year to get things squared away with our water department and our water and sewer maintenance and get their input,” Collins said.
Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: [email protected] or by calling 518-395-3120.
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