May 23, 2019

Sewer rate plan headed back to council> Operations panel discusses options but fails to make any recommendations

BANGOR — The municipal operations committee continued its discussion Tuesday on a proposal to hold sewer rates steady through July 1997, but no motions were made. With no recommendation one way or the other, Councilor Christopher Popper’s order will return to the council agenda on March 13.

Citing the long-awaited $1 million payment from the town of Hampden on a recent interlocal agreement regarding the waste-water treatment facility, Popper originally had intended to ask the council to roll back the 2 1/2-percent sewer rate increase the council passed in December.

Instead, Popper brought a proposal to the Feb. 26 meeting asking that the rate be held steady until July 1997. The council referred the proposal to municipal operations and the ad hoc sewer committee for further study.

The sewer committee took no action last week because as an ad hoc group, it doesn’t have the jurisdiction to make a recommendation.

Some of the councilors aired their individual opinions Tuesday, but no motions were made at the municipal operations committee either.

Finance Director Ron Heller repeated a point he has shared with councilors on several occasions, that rate payers will pay less in the long run if there are “earlier, lower increases than higher, later increases” in rates.

Popper continued to make his case for giving sewer rate payers some relief in increases because of the money received from Hampden.

David Leen said his inclination was to put off an increase until 1997 because of the increase in water rates anticipated this spring.

Espousing a different point of view was Timothy Woodcock, who said that putting off an increase until next year would result in customers “paying more later.”

Patricia Blanchette said she has talked with people in all walks of life about the issue, “and people have told me very plainly that a gradual increase is easier to absorb.”

Also on the next council agenda will be a request for the city to donate $1,000 to BAIRNet, the Bangor Area Information Resources Network, a nonprofit volunteer organization working to create a community on-line computer network.

Speaking in favor of the contribution were Woodcock and James Tyler, who thought the city would benefit from being able to disperse many kinds of information on the network.

Popper and Blanchette also thought the program was a good idea, but were reluctant to commit taxpayer money to the project this late in the fiscal year. Both advocated seeking more contributions from businesses and other entities that would benefit from having the system in use.

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