The members of the Village of Greenwich Board of Trustees, our water operators and I met on November 5th to discuss the upcoming water project and specifically the debt that the Village has assumed to pay for the project. Although we were awarded $3M in grants for the water project, the total cost is over $8M, so we will be left with $5M in 0% interest loans to pay over the next 40 years. So we’ve known for a while that we need to raise our water rates. The special public meeting on November 5th was held for the Board to discuss the issues and make decisions.
Before the pandemic arrived we had planned to begin raising water rates gradually, so we would end up in a few years at the levels that we need. But because of the economic situation and uncertainty of last year, we held the rates where they were. Now we’re at the point where we can’t delay an increase any longer, because a year from now our initial payment on the loan will be about $100K.
In order to make a good decision about our rates, we decided to compare the rates in Greenwich to the going rates of some of our neighbors. Here is what we found when we compared our basic water rate to the basic rate in other villages.
- In Greenwich, the basic rate is currently $138 a year, plus a $40 a year water reserve fund payment (for repairs). Total $178.
- In Schuylerville, the basic rate is $480 a year.
- In Salem, the rate is $177 for capital improvements and $198 a year for water = $375.
- Schaghticoke charges $300 a year. They also have a capital loan, and they will be adding $400 to property owners’ Village taxes starting this next year.
- Cambridge water is supplied by a private company, American Water, and I wasn’t able to get accurate information about what the average Village resident pays in time for this article.
The result of our comparisons is a finding that our rates have been comparatively low for the past decades. I know this might not seem helpful if you’ve budgeted $x and now your rate suddenly jumps. We on the Board talked about this at length.
Here is the decision we made, and these new rates will take effect in the first billing period of 2021. Reminder: we issue water bills three times a year, compared with the quarterly bills that we sent out before 2017. Starting in 2021, for each billing cycle we’ll increase the basic rate by $30, or a $90 increase per year. For customers who consume more than 10,000 gallons and are charged by the gallon for over 10,000, we are not changing the overage fees. So all customers will see an increase of the same amount. With the increase, the basic rate for Village residents will be $228 plus $40 for the water reserve=$268.
On another important topic, we will be launching new water meter installations in spring 2021. Many of you have sent your contact information into the Village Clerk with your water bills – thank you. You can also call the Village office at 518-692-2755 to give us your information. We will need to get in touch with each household in order to arrange appointments for putting the devices in, and we anticipate needing about an hour to install each meter. We are all concerned about how to do this safely in the time of COVID, and we want to assure Village residents that we will hire contractors who have good safety plans in place that they will use consistently. We’ll work with residents to ensure that they feel safe in this process.
If you have questions or concerns, you can write to me at email@example.com, or you can call the office at 518-692-2755 x 100 and leave a message.
Mayor Pam Fuller