WILTON — Residents will get the chance Tuesday night to voice their opinions on a proposal to include town funding in next year’s budget to help offset a rise in sewer rates.

The hearing will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Academy Hill School. The Board of Selectmen have been discussing the issue over several meetings since the start of the year after the town’s water district superintendent warned that sewer rates are slated to steeply increase once debt payments on loans used to fund the $10.8 million upgrade to the town’s wastewater system and treatment plant become due.

With only 944 of the households and businesses in the 4,116-resident town using the town’s sewer system, selectmen thought it would be appropriate to bring the issue to a public hearing.

“Usually a user fee is a user fee,” Selectman Jeffrey Adams said at a Jan. 6 meeting. “There are a lot of people in town who (don’t use) the water and sewer.”

Justin Futia, Superintendent for the Water and Waste Water Departments, recommended that the town contribution to debt payments included in the 2016-2017 budget be $170,000. Futia said this figure represented one third of what the wastewater department feels businesses connected to the sewer system contribute economically to the town of Wilton.

Town Manager Rhonda Irish said that for the past several years, the town has contributed $30,000 in the budget to go towards previous wastewater debt payments.

With the minimum $30,000 contribution, annual sewer rates are projected to rise from $439 to $760, Futia said Friday.

In September 2015, the first of 29 annual $198,049 debt payments was made on a phase one loan.

Irish has said that once spring comes the project will begin to move faster, meaning that the town could close on the phase 2A loan as soon as September, a year from when the town closed on that loan, and the first debt payment of $140,000 is due. It’s possible that the town could close on the phase 2B loan as soon as September 2017 with the first $141,075 debt payment due in 2018.

For each loan the debt payments will be made annually for 29 years.

Futia said the rate increase that will hit sewer users sometime around July reflects all of the future debt payments the wastewater department must make. However, these increases do not include any increase in maintenance costs, which are likely.

The upgrade of the town’s sewer system started in 2009 and has been broken down into two phases. Phase one of the project, which included upgrades to some of the town’s 26 miles of sewer lines and 31 pump stations, is complete.

In October, residents approved accepting a U.S. Department of Agriculture $2.75 million loan and a $1.35 million grant to complete phase two of the upgrade.

Phase two focuses on the town’s wastewater treatment plant on Davis Court, which was built in 1978 and has received no major upgrades since then. Futia said he will be at Tuesday’s hearing to answer any questions about the upgrade and the rate increases.

Lauren Abbate — 861-9252

[email protected]

Twitter: @Lauren_M_Abbate