Town officials are encouraging residents to attend the Milford Water Co. rate hearing Wednesday, to share their opinions on the proposed increase.
The state Department of Public Utilities will hold the public hearing at Milford Town Hall, in the upper floor, to accommodate a large crowd. The meeting is from 7 to 9:30 p.m.
"If nobody shows up, that sends them a certain message," said Town Counsel Gerry Moody last week.
Moody prepared a series of slides, broadcast on Milford TV, which shows the impact of the proposed 83 percent rate increase on customers, including the town of Milford. The information included the following points:
- The last rate increase for the Milford Water Co. was less than two years ago, a 33 percent increase.
- The total water cost to town government, which ultimately is paid for by taxpayers, would increase by $499,335.
- That amount would nearly wipe out the tax gains from new growth, which was $625,228 this year.
- The average "low use" family of three, two parents and a teenager, would pay $265.26 more a year, to $486.45.
- The "normal use" family of five, two parents and three children, would have a bill that increased from $978.40 a year to $1,744.38.
The Water Company filed the rate request proposal with the state DPU in October, seeking to generate revenue to cover the construction of the new water treatment plant. The facility is under construction at the Water Company site on Dilla Street.
The new plant is expected to be operational this spring.
The size of the rate increase took town officials by surprise, because initially, the Water Company said it would seek a rate hike of about 50 percent. Instead, the filing application seeks 83 percent, across the board, for all of its customers.
Because the town of Milford is a large customer, the increase in water rates would be passed on to taxpayers, who already would be paying increased water bills as customers of the private utility, Moody said.
In reviewing company documents, Moody said he learned the water utility is seeking an 11.5 percent rate of return in its increase. "It will be a big issue in this case," he said.