The Greater Augusta Utility District Board of Trustees on Monday will finalize plans to adopt new water and sewer rates this fall.

Costs will increase for Augusta and Hallowell residents by 66 percent for fire protection, 21 percent to 79 percent for service charges, 5 percent for public hydrant expenses, 38 percent for sewer services and 42 percent for storm water control.

At a recent informational meeting in Hallowell, it was clear that the trustees had little knowledge about how these numbers were derived.

It certainly wasn’t clear why they require combined sewer overflow fees for Hallowell residents in spite of the fact that the city charter prohibits payment of such costs, and in spite of the fact that the costs relate primarily to Augusta’s own storm water issues.

Most surprising of all, the trustees could not explain why the Greater Augusta Utility District continues to charge a few outer Hallowell residents 450 percent of what it does its other users ($26.10 vs. $117.69) — for the same services.

These fees will fund the utility district’s new $17 million sewer and storm-water system upgrade under way in Augusta.

It’s just the beginning. Future phases are planned, and more increases are likely.

The most disturbing aspect isn’t the end cost. It’s that rates are being devised with minimum explanation and little heed to fair practice. The board reports only to itself. One wonders who is looking out for the ratepayer’s interests?

This meeting, scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday at the wastewater treatment plant, Jackson Avenue, Augusta, may be residents’ last chance to question the utility district about their water and sewer rates.

Those who value fairness and an honest cost of service should attend and make their voices heard.

Tony St. Peter

Hallowell


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