COLUMN: LOCAL MEETING ROUNDUP
$2 hike approved in water, sewer fees
UXBRIDGE - Acting as water and sewer commissioners, selectmen Monday night approved proposed water and sewer rates that will increase the average customer's quarterly bill by $2.09. The fees go into effect April 1.
Consumption fees remain the same, based on usage that hasn't changed much from the five-year average. Finance Director David A. Genereux told the board the minor fee changes for capital improvements reflect debt service for water and sewer projects.
Selectmen also approved an increase in septage disposal rates at the wastewater treatment facility to $75 per 1,000 gallons from $70 per 1,000 gallons. Department of Public Works Director Benn S. Sherman said the higher fee would offset costs associated with increased septage discharge at the plant from other communities.
In other business, selectmen voted not to turn back on five streetlights around Marion Street and Snowling Lane, as requested by resident James Foley. Mr. Foley said the darkened streets presented a hazard, particularly when people visiting two funeral homes in the area park on the side streets and walk over uneven pavement in the dark.
Town streetlights were ordered turned off by the board several years ago to save money unless there was evidence of harm to public safety. The initiative saves the town $25,000 a year.
"At this time I don't know if we can make a specific exception for one street," said Selectman Jay Cahill, board chairman. He said there were no exceptional hazards reported on that street.
- Susan Spencer
Chandler urges town to list road, bridge work
NORTHBORO - State Sen. Harriette L. Chandler advised selectmen Monday night to develop a list of shovel-ready road and bridge projects.
"We are expecting to do a major transportation bond bill this year. It's a capital bond bill. We're going to do what we can to raise $300 million," Ms. Chandler told selectmen. "Talk to your DPW and public safety committee about what you could have shovel-ready, so you will have everything you need in place."
Ms. Chandler, D-Worcester, state Sen. James B. Eldridge, D-Acton, and state Reps. Danielle Gregoire, D- Marlboro, and Harold P. Naughton, D-Clinton, attended the meeting to hear about the town's legislative priorities. Among them are restoration of the state's "Circuit Breaker" reimbursement for costly out-of-district special education placements, and an increase in Chapter 90 funding, which is used for repairs and maintenance of roads and bridges.
Chapter 90 is currently funded at the current level of $200 million. Gov. Deval Patrick is proposing to increase Chapter 90 to $300 million by increasing taxes, including hiking the state income tax rate to 6.25 percent.
"He has proposed increasing taxes. But we're going to try to find another way to get to that $300 million," Mr. Naughton said. "If we can't, would your board be supportive of that tremendous increase in taxes to do that?"
Several board members indicated that they do not support the governor's proposed tax hikes.
"I'd like to see some other...