Sewer users to see increase of $48 per year
Great Barrington — Sewer users in Great Barrington will see a rise in fees for next year. The fee will jump to $508 from $460 per equivalent dwelling unit.
Acting as sewer commissioners at Monday’s public hearing, the Great Barrington Selectboard approved the increase, which had been given a nod of approval at the annual town meeting in May.
A typical home is charged one EDU while apartment buildings and businesses such as hotels and laundromats pay more. There are approximately 3,600 EDUs in Great Barrington sewer district.
Sean Van Deusen, who heads the Great Barrington Department of Public Works, told the selectmen the increase was necessary in order to fund debt incurred because of a mandated sewer system upgrade.
The town just finished Phase 2 of the $33 million project, which, as an enterprise fund, will have to be paid for by sewer users and ratepayers only rather than by all taxpayers in town, Van Deusen said.
“We have $2 million in debt and I’m recommending the increase,” Van Deusen said.
The project is being financed through the state’s Clean Water Fund, which offers low-interest loans over 20 years. The first phase of the upgrade, which was completed last year, included sludge handling improvements, electrical upgrades and an emergency generator for power outages.
Phase 2 began in 2015 and was comprised of a replacement pumping system, a new screening system and increased energy efficiency. The total cost of Phase 2 was $5.2 million.
Phase 3 will involve the improvement of pumping systems to deal with problems such as disposable wipes. That project is set to begin next year.
Acting as sewer commissioners, the selectmen approved the rate increase unanimously. There were no comments from the public.
Town manager Jennifer Tabakin also acknowledged that this would be the last such hearing for longtime wastewater superintendent Tim Drumm, who is retiring soon.
Tax rate set
The selectmen adopted a single tax rate of $14.98 per $1,000 of assessed value for all classes of property. That’s an increase of 38 cents from last year. The board of assessors had recommended that the selectmen maintain a single rate for all types of property.
Some towns, such as Lenox, have adopted a split rate in which businesses are taxed at a higher rate than homeowners, for example. Other options include an open space discount, a residential exemption, a commercial exemption or a small commercial exemption.
The town’s tax levy for fiscal year 2018 is approximately $21.5 million, up from about $20.8 million last year, or an increase of 3.56 percent. The town’s grand list, or the total taxable value of residential, commercial, industrial and personal property, is $1.44 billion, up from 1.426 billion last year, or an increase of almost 1 percent.
New Community Preservation Committee member appointed
The selectmen appointed Patricia Sharpe, dean of academic affairs at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, as an at-large member of the Community Preservation Committee, which decides which groups receive funds through the state’s Community Preservation Act.
Two other residents applied: former selectman Andrew Blechman and Michael Andelman, a business consultant and entrepreneur.