YARMOUTH —The Town Council on Dec. 17 will vote on a 20% sewer fee increase for all residents and commercial users.  

Town Manager Nat Tupper proposed the increase last spring as the council took an early look at the town’s 2021 budget in anticipation of a tight year ahead. The increase would go into effect for the fall 2021 billing cycle. 

Even with the increase Yarmouth’s sewer fees would still be the third-lowest in the state, following Waterville and Augusta.   

The Town Council discusses the sewer fee increase with Nat Tupper, Town Manager, on Nov. 17.

The sewer fees in Yarmouth have not been raised since they were set in place in 2013, and according to surveys taken by the Maine Rural Water Association.

Standard user rates stand at $350 annually, and would be raised to $420 if the proposed increase is adopted. A 20% discount would be available to qualifying seniors and renters. Low-income residents could qualify for a 50% discount.

For industrial users, the annual rate would be lowered from $1,550 to $950, but would include an increase of 24 cents per cubic foot if the metered use exceeds the high user rate limit.

The town generates $940,000 annually from sewer fees; the increase would add $144,467 yearly. The funds are used to offset some of the property taxes used to operate the sewer collection and treatment program and to pay for repairing and maintaining sewer lines, according to an announcement on the town website.

The council has implemented other strategies for alleviating the pressure on property tax rates, including converting the town’s streetlights to energy-efficient LEDs, according to Vice Chairperson April Humphrey.

According to Tupper, the council may ask voters to transfer $50,000 from the capital reserve account, which contains $100,000. The money was earmarked for aerial spraying for browntail moth if needed.

The council was originally scheduled to vote on the proposal in November, but due to a lack of community input, the vote was rescheduled for the Dec. 17 meeting, according to Humphrey.

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