As I promised in my inaugural address, I appeared before the Water and Sewer Committee this morning and asked them to take action on several items. As you know our ability to dictate water and sewer rates is limited due to our assessments from the MWRA. I believe these four initiatives are a significant step forward and provide legitimate answers to some of the issues facing this community.
- Have the DPW director report on a periodic basis regarding the progress on water meter replacement, which we expect will be completed by July 1, and report what benefits this new metering system brings in terms of identifying leakage, monitoring consumption per house as well as city wide, and reducing the number of estimated bills.
- Have the Commission look at a monthly billing opt-in for citizens, so they can choose to pay their bills quarterly or monthly. It is my understanding that in the state of Rhode Island, monthly billing is the norm, and several communities in Massachusetts are going in that direction. We want to ensure that this is done correctly and I want to encourage the Committee to start with large user accounts before bringing it out citywide. This gives families the option to manage their bills more efficiently.
- We have a generous discount for qualifying seniors. However, a small portion of senior property owners live in condominiums that are not individually metered. It is very difficult to identify consumption and apply the discount when you don’t know how much water is used. At the same time, we want to avoid giving discounts to people who do not qualify. As you know the rhetoric around this issue has been extraordinary but no solution has been offered to date. I would like the Committee to explore the possibility of offering a rebate to qualifying seniors who live in condos, money that they could then use toward association fees.
- I encourage the Director of Public Works and the City Engineer to come before this Committee with a comprehensive, multi-year program to be recommended by this Committee and sent for passage to the Board of Aldermen for July 1, 2016, that addresses inflow and infiltration as aggressively as we have addressed other flooding and water issues and challenges in this community.
It is my hope that these initiatives will be considered and voted on by the Water and Sewer Committee and sent to the Board of Aldermen for passage.