WOBURN - The City Council's Ordinance Committee earlier this week agreed the community's water rates should be increased to offset increasing service costs.
Meeting in City Hall's Committee Room, aldermen on the subgroup recommended passage of a 15 increase to water and sewer fees that is being sought by Mayor Scott Galvin. The full council is expected to act on the ordinance change during its next meeting on Tuesday night.
Based upon the order and subsequent recommendation, homeowners can expect their combined water and sewer charges to jump by around $90. Specifically, in a memo sent from the mayor to the council earlier this month, Galvin explained the total annual bill for both services would jump from $586.30 to $674.25.
"This increase is necessary to cover the costs required to deliver water and sewer services to end users," the mayor wrote.
Currently, the average homeowner in the community is billed semiannual water bills of $164.89, while sewer costs are set at a flat $128.26 rate. Under the municipal ordinance amendment, those biannual water and sewer rates will be increased to $189.62 an $147.50, respectively.
Commercial landowners are assessed drastically higher costs for water and sewer services. Under city ordinances, businesses pay a metered rate of $7.40 for every 100 cubic feet of water — which equates to roughly 748 gallons. Sewer bills are then calculated for commercial landowners by multiplying annual water bill totals by 177 percent.
Under the proposed legislation, that base commercial water rate would be hiked to $8.51.
Even with the latest service increase, Woburn's citizens will continue to enjoy some of the lowest residential water and sewer rates in the region. Based upon
A partial customer of the Mass. Water Resource Authority (MWRA), Woburn still draws roughly two-thirds of its water supply from wells around the Horn Pond area, according to the public works director.
According to a 2018 survey conducted by the MWRA, Woburn had the lowest combined water and sewer rates in the agency's 61-community customer network. That analysis, which includes the most recent available data from the water provider, shows Winchester, Burlington, and Clinton as the only other municipalities that came close to matching Woburn's combined $586.30 bill.
Burlington reportedly charged its residential customers $601.54 for water and sewer services in 2018, while Clinton and Winchester assessed annual bills of $638.23 and $648.20, respectively.
By contrast, citizens in neighboring towns shoulder drastically higher costs. For example, in Reading, ratepayers were assessed average annual fees of roughly $2,420. Stoneham's residents on average saw a 2018 bill of $1,875, while in Wilmington, the typical charge for ratepayers was $1,197, according to MWRA survey.
Galvin, in his memo to the council, also stressed that Woburn's reputation for offering low water and sewer fees — not to mention one of the state's only flat water rates — will remain unchanged even with the proposed increases.
"I have included the MWRA’s water and sewer retail rate survey for surrounding area communities receiving services from the MWRA in 2018. The average combined water and sewer bill for the sixty communities receiving services from the MWRA was $1,651," Galvin explained.