Fredonia’s water and sewer rates are staying the same — for now.
Village trustees defeated proposals to raise both rates by $1 per 1,000 gallons of use during a Monday night meeting.
Trustee David Bird, author of the proposals, was joined by Nicole Siracuse in voting for them. Trustees Jon Espersen, James Lynden and Michelle Twichell voted “no.”
Espersen proved to be the swing vote. He was open to, but wary about, the plan in previous discussions about it. He said village officials ought to look at and discuss the results of a new study before making any big decisions about the water system.
In fact, prior to the vote, Espersen asked for a special session to focus solely on Fredonia’s water issues. Trustees agreed and will direct Mayor Douglas Essek, who was not at Monday’s meeting, to call the special session. The date and time for it was not determined Monday.
“I don’t believe we can talk about changing water rates until we resolve the core problem, which, in my opinion, is the lost revenue for both water and sewer,” Espersen told the OBSERVER Tuesday morning.
“This is why I requested a special meeting, to include the engineering firm that completed the study, their grant writer, our treasurer, water treatment plant supervisor and DPW supervisor,” he continued. “I feel we need to take a comprehensive look at our water situation and develop a plan moving forward.
“Can we reduce the cost of production, reduce the cost of distribution, balance cost reduction with small rate increases, are we better off purchasing from a different source? I want to examine everything with all parties in the same room with this being the only item on the agenda,” Espersen concluded.
Bird’s proposal would have raised water rates from $4.80 to $5.80 for each 1,000 gallons used. Sewer rates would have gone from $6.17 to $7.17 per 1,000 gallons.
Trustees said nothing about the rate hike proposals during their workshop Monday, with Lynden commenting, “It’s all been thoroughly discussed.”
However, Pomfret town Supervisor Dan Pacos and Fredonia resident Robert Scott did have a few things to say, during the public hearing on Bird’s plan.
Scott, who spoke first, said that he felt all water system customers should share the cost of increases in variable commodities, such as chlorine. The village “must identify and categorize all costs properly to have a fair and proportionate rate structure for all consumers.”
Pacos sought to correct a misconception about rate hikes for Fredonia water customers who live in Pomfret. He said Fredonia rate hikes would not be borne solely by village residents — instead, any Fredonia hike would result in a proportional increase for Pomfret customers.