Water and Sewer Rates to Increase
The Board of Selectmen approved a nominal 3.3% combined increase to the water and sewer rates at their meeting in Town Hall on March 7. This increase is reflective of a water rate of $10 for every 100 cubic feet of use and $10.17 for every 100 cubic feet of sewer usage. Each household also pays $40 a year for stormwater drainage. Residents will be charged the new rates on their September 2017 bill. The overall rate of increase was mitigated partially through the use of funds from the Water and Sewer Reserve Fund. Reading has reduced its overall water usage by almost 20% over the last ten years and the town’s average water usage is 25% lower than the state average. Reading also has an extremely low rate of “unaccounted for” water loss at only 1.13%. The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority considers an “unaccounted for” rate between 5%-10% as acceptable. Reading’s management of infrastructure may be a reason for this encouraging statistic. Town Manager Robert LeLacheur estimates that the town saves $100,000 a year because of this efficiency.
The Selectmen also approved a request for a stop sign on Auburn Street at the Beacon Street crossing. Cars going to and from the High School at high rates of speed have created a safety hazard at this intersection. Police Chief Mark Segalla estimates that between 200-250 cars go through this intersection from 2:00 PM and 3:00 PM on any given school day. Once the sign is in place, an officer will be on hand at the end of the school day for the first few weeks to issue warnings to those who do not stop at the new sign.
At the request of the Town Manager, the Board restructured some positions in the Finance Department to hire a replacement for the former Town Treasurer/Collector. These changes should be cost neutral. The meeting concluded with a discussion about fostering cooperation between some of the town’s committees and commissions who fall under the supervision of the Board of Selectmen.