The Bedford Town Board approved a series of water rate increases Tuesday night for the Consolidated Water District, Town Clerk Boo Fumagalli told Patch, with the vote being unanimous.
The new rate list is in reaction to construction of the new water filtration plant in Katonah that serves the district. In a community letter, Supervisor Lee Roberts wrote that it brings additional operating expenses, including purchasing water, getting chemicals and disposing waste.
The changes mean that the average rate increase will be about 20 percent and $97 annually, Roberts wrote. However, the increase is less than was previously anticipated because some costs, such as waste disposal and electricity, are lower than previously anticipated, she said.
The revised rate structure includes lower minimum water amounts for water mains used in typical residences (5/8" and 3/4") or small commercial places (1"), dropping from zero to 10,000 gallons to zero to 5,000 gallons. For the new bottom tier for 5/8" and 3/4", the price will be a flat fee of $25.00, dropping from $46.26. For 1" meters, it will be $31.00, down from $45.26. People will pay additional costs per 1,000 gallons if they go above the initial amount.
Roberts wrote that the changes, which include more of an incline tied to consumption levels, are meant to encourage conservation, which she explained will lower the town's water purchasing costs and help the environment.
Buildings with larger meters, however, will see higher minimum costs. Mains that are 1 1/2", which are described by the town as being used in medium commercial facilities, will see an increase from $45.26 to $62.00. Meters that are 2", 3" and 4", which are used in larger commercial places, will get a rate that will more than double, jumping from $45.26 to $93.00.
The difference in fees between smaller mains and larger ones was a point of concern for a Katonah man who attended the Tuesday meeting, according to a video of the occasion. He told the town board that his 2-bedroom home, built in 1976, had a 1-inch main put in because of a possible expansion of the building. He felt that he was being unfairly penalized, stating that he would be paying more than other residences who may have more home square footage and residents. Talk at that meeting then turned to comments from Department of Public Works Commissioner Kevin Winn, who suggested replacing the existing meter with a smaller one, an idea that the man rejected. He called for the town to grandfather in his status, feeling that the issue is unfair because it's retroactive to what type of meter he already has in the building.
At one point in the meeting video, Councilman Chris Burdick asked why meter size, and not just usage, was used for the basis of rates. Winn explained that larger mains present challenges for infrastructure, including needing more production and distribution capacity.
Town Board members, according to the video, later decided that research should be done to find residences in similar situations as the concerned resident, and did not rule out the possibility of grandfathering.
With the rate increase vote done, the next major item for the district will be the dedication of the new plant. Roberts announced that it will take place on Oct. 5 at 10 a.m., followed by a noon tour. People who want to attend must park in Commuter Lot 3 on Katonah's Woodsbridge Road, where a shuttle bus will run from 9:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
The Consolidated Water District serves more than 2,100 homes and businesses in Katonah and Bedford Hills, according to the town's website.
A chart showing the new water rates, coupled with Roberts' letter, can be found here.