Residents offer views on proposed water rate hike
Supervisor Keith Dash opened the public hearing by offering a detailed explanation for the need of the possible water rate hike, up to $0.50 per thousand gallons of water billed.
“We were at a situation with the water project and had to go to long term financing which is costing our town $750,000 a year to payback that particular loan, and of that $750,000, $130,000 of it alone is on interest,” said Dash. “It’s not fair, it’s not fair to try and regain and recoup while we are in the process, and let me say that we are closer to having the Erie County Water Authority take over lease management than we were prior to us assuming office back in January. They know the urgency in this matter because of the debt hanging over this towns head.”
“With that, we met during a work session and looked at ways in which we try and get some of that money and pay that so there wouldn’t be any burden or severe interruption of service and it was suggested that we go and maybe take a look at increasing the water rate. At the maximum of $0.50 per thousand gallons, it simply means a $3 increase per quarter or $12 per year on the minimum water bill. And again, that would pay our interest, so that more of our money could go to paying the principal,” the supervisor said.
Even with the potential rate hike, the Town of Evans is still better off than a number of municipalities in the area in terms of water cost, Dash said.
“We’re in the middle when you look at what other municipalities in the area are paying,” Dash said. “By comparison, the Town of Akron is paying the highest waters rates in Erie County at over $7.75 per thousand gallons billed and the lowest is $2.70, and we’re paying $5.05, and now at the most, we’re paying $5.55, which puts us right in the middle.”
“I understand the pain and the grief of always raising rates, and shortly after reading an article in the Pennysaver from the last administration saying there would not be an increase, they increased the rates. I know that no matter what anyone says tonight, the rates will go up,” said resident Ed Convoy. “And you mentioned the other water rates in Erie County. I know we’re not the highest but we’re trying to get there, and you say there’s an end in sight to the water project, when this end in sight happens, will there ever be a leveling off of the rate increases?”
“It should be yes,” Dash said. “That’s what it’s designed to do.”
It was announced that the rate of the loan is 2.35 percent and the principal on the loan is roughly $11,000,000.
Another question regarding accountability was raised from the floor.
“The fact is, we have been presented with the fact, we have a shortfall, we have a cash-flow problem and we went to the long term financing of a project before it was complete,” Dash said. “I don’t get into pointing fingers, I’m not like that.”
“Is this going to get us out of the woods? Absolutely not,” Dash said. “We’re trying to close the gap in the most convenient and fairest way possible we can for our residents.”
Following the public hearing, the board moved to table the water rate increase to next meeting so that Councilman Dennis Feldmann, absent from the meeting due to illness, can offer his thoughts.
In other board news:
• Jeffrey Wattie, 6667 Erie Road, Derby, was appointed as part-time dispatcher at a rate of $10 per hour while in training and $13.55 upon completion.
This move is facilitated by the resignation of former part-time dispatcher Donna Kraft.
The Evans Town Board will hold its next regular meeting on Wednesday, June 6.