Financial meetings set for Water and Sewer

Thu, 06/18/2020 - 5:30pm

The New Shoreham Water and Sewer Commissions this week approved a date for the annual Financial Meetings for both of those departments: Monday, July 6 at 4 p.m. The two commissions hope to hold the meetings at the Block Island School in order to accommodate the number of people that can gather in a public space. Each meeting will need a quorum of at least seven ratepayers in order to hold a vote.

Ratepayers will be asked to consider rate increases for both utilities. The Sewer Commission narrowly approved a 3.75 percent increase on user fees, which would result in $879,583 in revenue for the utility.

The motion to approve the user fee for the Sewer Company increase was made by Chair Pete McNerney. Since the Sewer Company is expected to increase a contribution from its reserve fund due to a decrease in revenue, McNerney wanted to reduce monies coming from the company’s reserve fund.

According to an overview provided by Assistant Finance Director Mona Helterline, the “contribution from reserves will increase over 300 percent from FY 2020 in order to fund the operating budget.” Contributions from the reserve account totaled just under $69,000 in 2020, with that figure expected to jump to $290,000 in 2021.

Commission member Brad Marthens opposed the user fee increase, saying that “for places out here any increase is too much.” The vote was 3-2 in favor, with member Sandra Finizia also voting nay on the motion.

The proposed budget for the Sewer Company for 2021 is $1,392,530, which reflects a 7 percent decrease from the current year’s budget.

The Water Commission had previously approved a 12.5 percent increase in user fees, due to an expected drop in user fees for 2021, and to help offset the cost of a $2.3 million water main project on High Street and Payne Road.

Contributions from the Water Company’s reserve fund totaled almost $79,000 in 2020, but are expected to increase to just over $200,000 in 2021. The total budget for the Water Company was proposed at $779,880, a 5 percent decrease from this year’s budget.