Brockton councilors debate proposed sewer rate increase of 18%

BROCKTON — Your sewer bill could go up 18% — $96 a year for the average user — under a plan city leaders are considering.

Department of Public Works Commissioner Pat Hill asked city councilors for the rate hike on Tuesday. He argued that Brockton’s sewer fund, which is supposed to pay for itself, keeps needing bailouts. Currently the account has a $3.5M deficit, Hill said Tuesday.

Ward 4 City Councilor Susan Nicastro said sewer rate-payers, which include customers outside of Brockton, should be the first ones asked to pay more. “It’s very important that our enterprise funds self-sustain,” the veteran councilor said in a Tuesday meeting of the council’s ordinance committee. “I think we have to look to all sources and look to our taxpayers last.”

The sewer rate structure hasn’t changed since 2008, Hill said, except for adding $15 service fees in 2020. Abington, Avon, East Bridgewater, Whitman and Stonehill College also use or, pending construction projects, will use Brockton’s sewer system, according to Hill. Brockton sewer also serves RK Plaza plus two developments and a single store in West Bridgewater.

‘Unsustainable’ bailouts must end, DPW chief says

City Councilor Moises Rodrigues brought up the proposal, saying the time has come for the city to stop kicking the can down the road.

“Those [enterprise] accounts are supposed to pay for themselves and it’s not fair for us to use money from Peter to pay Paul. But at the same time we owe it to the city, we owe it to the taxpayers, we owe it to everybody to have a system that is self-sustaining,” the former mayor said Tuesday.

The city has been plugging the gap between what the sewer enterprise fund earns and the costs it must cover by using “retained earnings.” But for the looming financial year, which begins July 1, that money is gone. “It’s just not sustainable,” Hill said.

“The purpose of ‘retained earnings’ is to have a savings account to address capital needs,” said the city’s chief financial officer, Troy Clarkson, “not to balance the budget.”

Average sewer user would pay $24 more each quarter

If city councilors approve an 18% rate hike, quarterly sewer bills for the average user would go up by $24 per quarter, Hill said.

City councilors took no action Tuesday. They plan to gather more information and take up the proposal at a future ordinance committee meeting. That’s the sub-set of councilors that hashes out possible changes to Brockton’s local laws before the entire city council votes them up or down.

Several councilors balked at imposing another fee hike on top of recent ones, such as a $120 per year increase in the trash collection fee, which councilors passed into law in May. “We need to tighten our belt a little bit, because enough is enough,” said At-Large City Councilor and businessman David Teixeira. “There’s only so much the taxpayer can take.”

Send your news tips to reporter Chris Helms by email at CHelms@enterprisenews.com or connect on X at @HelmsNews.


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