Significant increase in sewer fees expected in Swampscott
Significant increase in sewer fees expected in Swampscott

SWAMPSCOTT, MA — The average homeowner in Swampscott will see water and sewer rates increase by between $111 and $124 per year. The new rates are set to take effect this summer to replenish reserves and allow for further investment in sewer infrastructure.

The Select Board considered two proposals earlier this week that would increase sewer rates by either 19.5 percent or 18.2 percent starting in August, while water rates would increase by either 7.5 percent or 6.2 percent.

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The two proposals will be sent back to the Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Committee for discussion and a vote before the Select Committee is asked to ratify the increases later next month.

“I doubt anyone here is really excited about this increase,” said Select Board member Doug Thompson. “But (a smaller increase) is not an option.”

The increases would move Swampscott from 7th highest water rates of the 56 MWRA municipalities to 5th highest and from 46th to 41st highest sewer rates. Combined, Swampscott would move from 36th of 56 to 23rd of 56.

“This is what happens when you chronically underinvest (in infrastructure),” said Select Board member David Grishman, pointing to the relatively small increases and occasional decreases in sewer rates in recent years.

Finance Director Amy Sauro said next year’s increase is designed to “catch up and maintain” the necessary reserves to maintain the city’s AAA credit rating while limiting big jumps in coming years.

“You look at the percentage increase and think that’s a significant increase, but the nominal amounts are not that significant,” said Sean Fitzgerald, Swampscott’s city manager. “The fact that we’re so low compared to other communities tells us that we haven’t really thought critically about where these investments should be made.”

(Scott Souza is Patch field editor for Beverly, Danvers, Marblehead, Peabody, Salem and Swampscott. He can be reached at [email protected]. Twitter: @Scott_Souza.)

By Aurora