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Derry councilor: Water rate hike doesn’t feel right

Union Leader Correspondent

October 02. 2013 8:55PM

DERRY — The timing of a proposed water rate hike prompted Town Council members Tuesday night to unanimously reject the plan.

Some members said the proposed rate increase came to soon on the heels of another rate increase Manchester Water Works, the wholesale water supplier to the town, had approved just six months before in March. The board wasted little time in voting 7-0 against the plan, which would have increased the average annual water bill by 1 percent.

“I don’t think I’ve seen this since I’ve sat on this council, and now I’ve seen two of these in six months,” said Councilor Neil Wetherbee.

The last such rate increase by Manchester Water Works took effect about five years ago, according to town staff.

Councilor Brad Benson said he didn’t like the mid-year timing of the latest rate hike.

Benson said the proposed rate hike “doesn’t feel right to me.”

The proposed rate increase was prompted by an increase in rates Manchester Water Works approved in June.

The plan that was rejected by councilors called for a rate change that would increase the annual average Derry water bill by 1 percent or from $342.12 to $346.25 per year, according to town officials.

Like many other utilities, Manchester Water Works has experienced stagnant growth during the last 10 years. Other factors — such as added costs of water production, main replacements, power and labor — have also created the need to raise rates, according to town staff.

According to a contract between Derry and Manchester Water Works, the rate change under this agreement shall be increased by the same percentage as the metered water rates to customers residing outside of the City of Manchester.

The rate increase by Manchester Water Works directly impacts Derry’s cost to supply water to its customers, according to the town. Historically, any rate increase has been passed on directly to Derry’s customers.

Also during the meeting, councilors voted to accept a grant for portable radios from the state. Under the grant, the Derry Police Department would receive three Motorola APX radios, including carrying cases, batteries and microphones.The radios and equipment are valued at $10,613.52, Derry Police Chief Ed Garone said. Programming of the radios at an authorized shop is also included in the cost.

The award is the third in a series of similar grants in which Derry previously received 29 radios in the first installment and seven in the second.

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