Town Council OKs $3.7 Million Sewer Budget
Debt service and fewer business users continue to drive up costs.
The Town Council passed a $3.7 million sewer budget for fiscal year 2013 at its meeting Aug. 27, despite frustration over increasing costs and a decreasing user base. The adopted budget marked a $144,000 increase over the FY 2012 budget.
Councilman Michael Kiernan expressed frustration with the sewage treatment plant’s underuse.
“We have a first-class facility that is underused. We can’t scale it back, obviously. Is there any way we can minimize what we do there?” he said. "It’s costing us a fortune to run the place.”
Public Works Director Joe Duarte reiterated that the loss of businesses such as ON Semiconductor and Bostitch has resulted in a significant loss of volume at the plant. And Yardney, which is moving into ON’s former manufacturing site, will not supply anywhere near the same capacity as did ON, he said.
So capacity in East Greenwich does not look to increase in coming years. And while costs have remained fixed in recent years, debt service – the amount owed – has not..
“Debt service is consuming our budget,” said Duarte. He said debt service is peaking, which could lower the sewer budget in coming years. But by then the system will need additional money, he said, presaging the need for a new sewer bond (and additional debt service).
During the Aug. 27 meeting, councilors discussed the possibility of expanding the customer base for the plant, such as adding Potowomut households. That would require extending the sewer line into the area, requiring significant upfront costs.
That idea was left open.
Also discussed about the sewer budget was a line-item capital expense to replace parts on two of the plant’s six rotating biological contactors (RBCs). The RBCs date back to 1989, when the sewage treatment plant opened. To replace to RBC shafts will cost $60,000 (see video, attached).