Village of Greenwich Water Rates and Update on the Water Project
Now that you’ve gotten your February water bill reflecting our higher rates, we thought we should repost information for the community about our water and the water project.
- The water project: We are embarking on a fairly large water system upgrade. Most of this was mandated by the NYS Department of Health, who are charged with ensuring that we have enough water and that it’s safe to drink. This project includes new wells to make sure we have enough capacity. It includes replacing water mains that are both too small to carry the water we need for normal usage and putting out fires, and too old—last year’s water main break was a pipe from the late 1800s! The project includes replacing the water meters currently in our homes. These are outdated and aren’t being manufactured any longer. The new meters will save our DPW workers time that can be used for other projects, since they will be automatically read as the trucks drive by (a system that’s been used by National Grid for years).
- Financing: Although we were awarded $3M in grants, the project total is over $8M, so we will be left with $5M in 0% interest loans to pay over the next 40 years. We’ve known for years that we need to raise our water rates. A special public meeting on November 5th was planned for the Board to discuss the issues and make decisions.
Before the pandemic, we had planned to raise water rates gradually, so we would end up in a few years at the level that we need. But because of the economic situation and uncertainty of last year, we kept the rates where they were. In November we were at the point where we couldn’t delay an increase any longer, because a year from now we have an initial payment on the loan due that is about $100K.
Reality check: We compared the rates in Greenwich to the going rates of some of our neighbors. Here is what we found when we compared the basic water rate we had to the basic rate in other villages.
- In Greenwich, the basic rate was $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 we couldn’t get accurate information about their rates.
The result was a finding that our rates have been comparatively low for the past decades. This probably doesn’t seem helpful if you’ve budgeted $x and now your rate suddenly jumps. The Village Board discussed this at length.
Our decision was to raise rates beginning in February, 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. A summary of rates is included in the water bills.
Questions? You can either email firstname.lastname@example.org to send questions to Mayor Pam Fuller, or you can come to our next regular meeting on February 8th. This is a virtual Zoom meeting; the link to the meeting is under calendar and events at www.villageofgreenwich.org.
—Pam Fuller, Mayor