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Upper Blackstone official details end of free tipping; Septic waste now charged.

Byline: Donna Boynton

MILLBURY - The Board of Selectmen last night questioned why the Upper Blackstone Water Pollution Abatement District voted to end a free tipping privilege offered to residents with septic systems, without input from the selectmen and no notice to residents.

J. Bradford Lange, the town's representative to the district and vice chairman of the district's board of directors, explained to the selectmen that the district took the vote in March, in part, to be fair to other member communities and sewer ratepayers in Millbury.

Residents not served by the sewer system had been allowed to have the waste pumped from their septic tanks by a private company, and hauled to and dumped at the Upper Blackstone plant, without being assessed a tipping fee as long as the town did not exceed its allotted capacity.

Mr. Lange said the directors felt that it was hard to track the septic system disposals that were coming from Millbury, and the privilege was being abused by haulers.

Mr. Lange added that he and the other directors felt it was hard to justify why those served by the sewer system were paying the rate and those who weren't got free disposal.

"It's not like it was a big decision," Mr. Lange said.

Selectmen, however, disagreed.

"This was a significant change and we were blindsided," said Selectman Michael O. Moore.

"It would have been nice if we were told," said Selectman Joseph F. Coggans Jr.

Sewer Commission Chairman Gary T. Nelson said he is working with Upper Blackstone officials to try to find an equitable system for both sewer system users and septic tank users.

In a related matter, selectmen accepted the final 10-year financial plan prepared by the Abrahams Group to project and plan for what that department will be facing in the next decade.

The report also projects the sewer user fees for 10 years, which are in line with what the sewer commissioners presented when pitching the project to voters.

Mr. Nelson explained three factors drove a sewer user fee increase: the decision to tie into the Upper Blackstone Wastewater Treatment Plant, which the sewer commissioners were not in favor of; the $21 million sewer project that is under way; and capital expenditures.

Mr. Nelson added that the sewer commissioners did not favor the voters' decision to transfer $400,000 from retained earnings to apply it to lower the sewer rate at annual town meeting last May.

That move increased the impact that will be felt when the sewer rate jumps from $6.33 per 1,000 gallons this fiscal year to the projected $9.33 in fiscal 2009.

The sewer rates are projected to be $10.76 in fiscal 2010; the average over the next 10 years is $9.31.

"You did yourselves a disservice," Mr. Nelson said of the transfer that was voted at town meeting, which he argued against at the time.

"We asked the townspeople to give us one year... We could have used that $400,000 for capital expenditures; now we have to raise this through the sewer users."

"This report was created by the vote of the townspeople," Mr. Nelson said. "We were dealt this hand, and we are working with it."

He said the sewer commissioners are trying to find ways to reduce the sewer rate.

Mark Abrahams, who authored the report, said the 10-year financial plan is to be used as a tool to monitor the Upper Blackstone's assessments; monitor the $21 million sewer project's debt service; and monitor and adjust the sewer stabilization fund.

NAME: MILLBURY SELECTMEN
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Nov 14, 2007
Words:595
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