New Rates and Proposed School Repairs At Last Night's Fall River City Council Session

At last night’s Fall River City Council Session the nine members were briefed by the government center’s sixth floor on proposed water and sewer rates for fiscal year 2020.


Cathy Ann Viveiros, Fall River’s city administrator, told the council how the numbers break down. The net impact to the two rates will be a $0.10 increase to both water and sewer meaning the average single family home will pay an estimated $10.00 per year.


“A good portion of these increases continue to be our C.S.O federally mandated infrastructure project to address our storm water and also our capital investment for our water main,” Viveiros said. “The replacement and realignment of the main is ongoing, as well. So clearly our debt service is driving a big portion of these increases.”


Rate proposals were submitted on the first of this month and proposed budgets for both water and sewer line items will be bumped up just over 6% each.


Community Utilities Director Terry Sullivan broke down the reason for increases.


“The $0.10 increase on water will bring the rate number of $3.14 per CCF to $3.24,” he explained. “That’s just over a 3% increase and for sewer the proposed rate is to increase from $5.38 to $5.48 per CCF for 1.8% increase. There are no proposed increases to the storm water fee or base meter fee.”


He continued, “The average family increase will be $10.66 annually. That’s a total for the average family that uses 109 gallons per day or $0.88 per month.”


Another major variable in the increase of rates is the cost of chemicals, says Sullivan.


“Last year, chemical bids came in much higher than anticipated so the water chemical budget increases by $80,000 and sewer chemical increases by $30,000.”


“The major increases for water noted, is the debt which has increased $6000,000,” Fall River’s Community Utility Director said. “The sewer debt has increased $920,000.”


One council member expressed his displeasure with the steady increase of expenses in the city.


“I’ve been a less than-than-enthusiastic supporter of your budget because of the significant increases through the years,” Council Member Steve Camara said to Sullivan. “Now, it seems as if our tax bills are being challenged by our water and sewer bills as the most significant expense for a household to maintain. It’s becoming burdensome.”


The council was also briefed by the mayor’s administration on a request for a $7.4 million loan order that would help the Watson School building complete a first phase of planned improvements.


Chief Operating Officer Ken Pacheco addressed the group in regards to the school’s repair plans.


“By spitting the project (into multiple phases) it allows us obviously more time to look at items we did not put before the M.S.B.A which was at the request of Councilor (Steven) Long,” he told the nine members. “He talked about air conditioning and that will be something we add onto the A.D.A compliance piece.”


The COO told the committee a second phase would allow A.D.A compliance in Watson by the Fall in 2021. Air conditioning is something planned to be added.


“It’s a little bit of a challenge in the building since it wasn’t designed to be air conditioned,” Pacheco explained. “It’s taking some time to be planned out. We’re through the schematic design for a lot of the work except for which is just advanced of that point.”


The municipal budget will be unveiled this afternoon at 2 p.m at an event in government center.