The upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant will cost $13 million less than expected.
The city awarded Methuen Construction a contract of $51,423,287 to make the upgrades required to comply with a U.S. EPA mandate to lower the levels of phosphorous and aluminum being discharged into the Housatonic River. It also includes adding a nitrogen optimization process. The City Council had previously authorized $74 million to complete the work.
The City Council adopted increases to water and sewer rates for both fiscal year 2019 and 2020.
The water rates are now set to go up 10 percent starting on Jan. 1 and then another 10 percent on July 1. Sewer rates are now slated to increase 50 percent on Jan. 1 and remain that way through 2020.
The City Council is split on setting water and sewer rates for the next 18 months.
In a 6-5 vote Tuesday night, the City Council's Committee of the whole approved the mayor plan to raise water rates by 20 percent and sewer rated by 50 percent starting on Jan. 1. However, the final decision has to be made next Tuesday and the council has requested more information before casting that vote.
Mayor Linda Tyer is introducing a plan to raise sewer rates over the next seven years to pay for the $74 million wastewater treatment project.
The sewer rate increase will be particularly front-loaded with a 50 percent increase at the start of 2019, should the City Council approve the plan. That would raise the current rate to $362.34 per year - an increase of $114.65 per year for a household with two toilets - effective January 1, 2019.