OXFORD — The Board of Selectmen unanimously voted October 4 to set new sewer rates for the town’s wastewater treatment facility which will increase some bills and decrease others, both businesses and residential.
The board agreed on a motion by Selectman Scott Hunter, seconded by Samantha Hewey, to a residential and business rate of $4 per 100 cubic feet of water consumption that will decrease the bills of six businesses by 36.5 percent and an increase five other business bills by about 10 percent.
The average residential decrease will be 28.5 percent in four homes and 18.9 percent decrease in about eight homes. The treatment plant currently services 23 customers.
Under the new rates, the average business cost per quarter is $2,830.74 and the average residential cost per quarter is $186.53. Under the current rates, the average business cost per quarter is $2,821.41 while the average residential cost per quarter is $180.29.
The majority of selectmen at their September 20 meeting had agreed to table a request to change the sewer rates after some board members asked for further review after Hewey said the town should be business friendly in its decision, but at the same time protect the interests of residents.
Under the new rates, business likes Honey Badger, the Lost Gull, Hampton Inn will pay less while the Oxford Casino and others will pay more, officials said.
Town Manager Butch Asselin said later that the unit fee (impact fee) is $29.50 less now than what it was. Each household will have its quarterly bill reduced by that amount.
Asselin said the new fee structure places more emphasis on consumption and less on units (the impact fee) and helps some small businesses like the Honey Badger which may see a drop off of business in the winter months. Under the old rate structure the Honey Badger sewer bill would remain high, but the new structure helps out some small businesses that are not heavy consumers of water that is being processed at the Waste Water Treatment Plant, he explained.
Asselin gave the Honey Badger as an example saying, if the restaurant used 2,300 cubic feet of water and they have eight units (the impact fee,) its bill would be $946 ($46 for water plus $900 for units) under the old rate structure.
But under the new fee structure, their bill would be $756 ($92 for water plus $664 for units). The Honey Badger’s quarterly bill would be reduced by $190 because of its low water consumption, he said.
Asselin said that those residences and businesses that water gardens and lawns should probably put a submeter in to reduce the sewer bill and toilets and faucets that are leaking should be repaired, again to reduce sewer bills.
Sewer bills for the last quarter are expected to be mailed out in the next few days with a notice that the rates will change as of October 1 for the next billing cycle.
In other news, the board discussed the future of the Town Office as officials await an estimate to remove mold and mildew primarily found in the gymnasium, elevator shaft and other areas in the basement of the existing Town Office.
Asselin said he has been advised the downstairs areas would benefit from placement of two industrial sized dehumidifiers. Asselin has suggested a committee be formed to look at the building’s future.
Asselin reported that he has received the design plans for the Welchville Dam project and is looking into funding that may be available to see what the impact would be if the dam was removed.
The board also was informed that the Thompson Dam, is not in immediate danger of failing, but in the future the lower boards that operate the flow of water over the dam and are bowing out, need to be replaced. The board have not been replaced in at least 20 years.
An ad hoc committee that is looking at the Pismo Beach question of opening it up to the general public is wrapping up its work. Asselin said he expects to have a report ready for the board at its November 15 meeting.
The town manager also said he will work with the Cemetery Committee to “fix what needs to be fixed” at the historic Craigie Cemetery. Resident Sharon Jackson told selectmen at their meeting two weeks ago the condition of the cemetery was a “disgrace.”