Editor’s Note: Zoom link was not available when first posted. Report has been updated with the Zoom link.
FRAMINGHAM – City of Framingham Mayor Yvonne M. Spicer and Chief Financial Officer Mary Ellen Kelley will hold a public hearing to discuss proposed Fiscal Year 2022 water and wastewater (sewer) rate increases, which would take effect on July 1, 2021.
“We are proposing a 9.7% increase to each tier,” said CFO Kelley to SOURCE. “The current rates are the same rates as FY20, as they were not changed during FY21.”
“The water and sewer fund had over $8 million of surplus funds when the Mayor took office three years ago,” said City Council Chair George P. King Jr. in an opinion piece published earlier this year. “The Mayor is responsible for setting the rates. Instead of reducing spending in the fund to match the rate income or increasing rates to support the spending levels she desired, she tapped reserves to keep rate increases low. That was a high-risk strategy in good times, and the pandemic shoved it over the edge. The $8 million reserve of just three years ago is now a $1.5 million deficit. It took just three years to run through $9.5 million of cash reserves. On top of that rapid loss of money, the City supplemented the water and sewer fund this fiscal year with an additional $3.5 million taxpayer bailout. Already at $13 million of losses, the Mayor’s team informed the City Council in November that the fund needs an additional $2.5 million subsidy in order to balance our books and set our tax rate. That is over $15 million in three years!”
The City CFO said “We are not proposing any changes to the tiers at this time but concur with the consultant hired by the Finance subcommittee that a full rate study be done during FY22. We would recommended that any rate structure changes developed as part of the study be implemented in FY23 (July 2022). This would allow more time for public input since this would be the first time a rate study has been done since 2008.”
The rate hike could have been double-digits, possible even double the 9.7% if the City of Framingham was not using money from the American Rescue Act to offset the deficit in the department.
The hearing will be held on Monday, June 21, at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 150 Concord Street, in the Blumer Room (on the basement level).
The public can either attend the meeting in person or via Zoom.
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