$26M for water plant OK'd.


Byline: Priyanka Dayal

WESTBORO - Voters at a special town meeting last night overwhelmingly approved borrowing $26 million to upgrade the town's wastewater treatment plant.

That amount will be added to the $28 million in borrowing that town meeting authorized in 2007, to cover the total project cost of $54 million. Construction is expected to begin this summer and be completed in 30 months.

The project includes the repair and replacement of parts of the plant, which is more than 20 years old. The upgrades will reduce the amount of phosphorus discharged into the Assabet River, to comply with mandates from state and federal environmental agencies.

The town is scheduled to receive about $4 million for the project from federal stimulus funds, but that amount could increase if other projects currently slated to receive funds lose their eligibility.

Westboro contributes 37 percent of the flow to the plant, while Shrewsbury contributes 57 percent and Hopkinton 5 percent. Westboro will do all the borrowing to pay for the project, because the plant is situated here. Shrewsbury and Hopkinton will pay Westboro back, based on their usage.

Westboro residents will see sewer bills increase 40 percent to 45 percent over the first three years of borrowing, then rates will remain flat, Town Manager Henry L. Danis Jr. said.

Yesterday's vote in favor of borrowing money for plant upgrades was an about-face from last May, when town meeting rejected a similar article, questioning cost estimates.

The special town meeting for the wastewater treatment plant was held during yesterday's annual town meeting, where voters approved a fiscal 2010 budget of $82,304,456, up 1.8 percent from the current budget. Westboro again avoided a Proposition 2-1/2 override question, but town officials have warned an override could come in the future.

The budget was approved, even as state and federal budget numbers - including local aid for the town - continue to change.

Most town departments will operate...

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