NEWINGTON – Town residents are expecting yet another hike in water rates this coming year.
The Metropolitan District Commission, which provides water and sewer services to Newington and several surrounding towns, has proposed a 2020 budget totaling $202,478,100 – a 6.9 % increase over this year’s spending.
MDC’s member towns are Newington, Wethersfield, Windsor, Bloomfield, Rocky Hill, West Hartford, East Hartford and Hartford. The average customer in one of these towns would see their household’s water and sewer bill increase $5.25 per month or $63 a year with this proposal. Non-member towns which procure services from the MDC could also be affected.
The District Board typically finalizes spending for the next year during its December meeting. Members are expected to vote on the 2020 proposal this Monday, Dec. 2 at 5:30 p.m. The meeting is open to the public and will take place at MDC headquarters, 555 Main St., Hartford.
This latest budget comes after the quasi-public agency passed an 11 percent spending increase last year, raising residents’ rates on average by almost seven bucks. MDC officials have cited aging infrastructure and the need for significant replacements underground as the reason for these increases.
“Every year it gets more difficult,” Chief Executive Officer Scott Jellison said when the body passed its current budget. “One of the things most crucial to us as we move down the road is the discussion of a national infrastructure program.”
The ongoing $2.5 billion Clean Water Project’s the ultimate goal is eliminating combined and sanitary sewer overflows in the Connecticut River, the Long Island Sound and other waterways.
Local legislators shared their concerns with media this week.
“I am very much concerned about what these increases will mean for cash-strapped area families, particularly those on fixed incomes,” said State Senator Matt Lesser, who represents three of the MDC’s member towns – Newington, Wethersfield and Rocky Hill. “While we need to continue to invest in our water infrastructure, I am focused on the best interest of ratepayers,” Lesser added. “I do not have the ability to vote on this proposal, but I urge the MDC board, which includes appointed members from each of the area towns, to proceed with caution.”
Despite these concerns, elected state officials have no real power over spending hikes, since the MDC is a privately-owned agency. Similarly, residents seem to have resolved to the general conclusion that “MDC will do what it wants.” Very few attend hearings.
State Rep. Gary Turco, D-Newington, acknowledged that the ongoing projects are necessary, though expensive.
“While I understand we must work quickly to finance these clean water and waste management upgrades, many of which have been mandated by DEEP and are a public health and environmental necessity,” Turco said, “I strongly encourage the MDC to look for alternative funding to reduce what would be a burden on the hard-working, middle class homeowners of our town.”
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or email@example.com.