Discussion on Tri Town Sewer Draws Heated Debate in Norton
Norton Selectmen and Water officials debate the current problems with the Tri Town Sewer district agreement.
Tri Town Sewer District negotiations have been going on for the past five years, and members of the Water and Sewer Department told the Norton Board of Selectmen they’re getting close to an agreement at a meeting Thursday night.
The issue of contention that’s holding up negotiations is the amount of money Norton would receive for hosting the sewer expansion needed to handle the three towns.
The main crux of the problem for Norton at least is that the expansion would require two additional parcels for which the town currently collects taxes on, taxes which the town would lose. Superintendent of Norton Water Department Diane McEligott said negotiations for the reimbursement are continuing, but are still up in the air and could seriously affect Norton ratepayers and potential business prospects in the town in the future.
This is called the Annual Payment to Norton, which is in the current draft of the Tri Town Sewer District agreement.
“Before we can go forward on negotiating a final agreement, we have to know where we are because we can’t have rate payers paying $400 this year having to pay $1,500 in four years because our revenue sections are misaligned,” McEligott said. “I don’t want to appear stubborn about this, but this is an ongoing negotiation. Norton is not happy with the wording of the agreement.”
The current agreement states that Norton would be reimbursed on a base value of $200,000 for the first year and increase $10,000 for 16 years amounting to $360,000. These funds are designed to offset the costs. This has to be known and decided by the three towns before said revenues can go back into either the town’s general fund or the Water Department.
McEligott said this could be detrimental to the town, as it would not be able to increase funds as they become available.
She said since Norton does not currently have the infrastructure to handle too many added businesses and residences, the town would have to know the rate of reimbursement and be able to adjust to unforeseen consequences in the future to pay for infrastructure expansion projects. She added that this could easily run into millions of dollars.
“We’re in a growth situation,” she said. “Norton has to build infrastructure and we have a relatively small base of customers. People already on the system are going to have pay for the new one.”