News Release Archive
February 16, 2001
MWRA Proposes FY02 Water and Sewer Assessments to Communities
More than half of the current expense budget will go toward debt service payments on bonds issued to finance ongoing water and sewer service improvement projects, including the construction of the 17.6 mile MetroWest Water Supply Tunnel.
"Various components of the 10-year Integrated Water Supply Improvement Program, including the MetroWest Water Supply Tunnel, are now well underway," said MWRA Executive Director Doug MacDonald. "New operating costs are under tight rein, but paying for the tunnel project and our other necessary system improvements makes a budget increase unavoidable if we are to continue the service that our customers -- and environmental and public health protection laws -- demand."
The remaining portion of the proposed budget will largely fund daily operating costs of the regional water and sewer systems. "Especially with debt service costs increasing, we need to make sure we can justify each dollar we propose to spend on day-to-day operations," said MWRA Chief Financial Officer Barbara Gottschalk. "In addition to several savings initiatives, this budget reflects our efforts to take advantage of attrition over the past year to achieve about a 5 percent reduction in staffing."
MWRA has included several major initiatives to control costs in the proposed budget:
Each February MWRA distributes preliminary estimates of community assessments for water and sewer services for the upcoming fiscal year based on best available information about anticipated MWRA expenditures and revenues. This year, because the Governor has recommended a reduction in Commonwealth debt service assistance, and because the Legislature has not yet acted on the state budget, MWRA is sending out two alternative sets of assessments that reflect differing levels of debt service assistance and funding from a rate stabilization account. MWRA is providing these alternatives to give communities as much information as possible for their own financial planning in this uncertain environment.
Each MWRA community sets its own water and sewer rates for residential and business customers. Rates vary considerably among communities due a variety of local factors. The average household in the 21 core communities uses approximately 63,000 gallons per year. Core community households consuming this volume would see an average annual bill of about $520 to $532.
For the combined 9.7% increase (Attachment A) the average sewer assessment increase is 6.8% and the average water assessment increase is 18.4%. For the 5.9% increase (Attachment B) the average sewer assessment increase is 2.4% and the average water assessment increase is 16.6%.
As always, preliminary assessments for individual communities may be higher or lower than the average sewer and water assessments. Water assessments to specific communities are based on each community's share of water use in calendar year 2000. Sewer assessments are based on a community's shares of average CY98, CY99, and CY00 wastewater flow, census and sewered population, and high strength industrial user volume and loading contributions.
Final assessments for FY02 will be determined with approval of MWRAs FY02 CEB by the Board in June. The final budget will incorporate changes resulting from the Advisory Boards recommendations, the Boards budget deliberations and decisions on the use of rate stabilization funds in FY02 and beyond, and legislative decisions regarding debt service assistance.
A gallon of drinking water from the tap in the MWRA service area now averages about nine/tenths of a cent. Flushing a toilet will cost from 1.4 to 4 cents depending on toilet size.