FAIRFIELD — Town councilors on Wednesday unanimously approved changes to the town’s Sewer Use Ordinance.

The vote followed a public hearing on the amendments, which Town Manager Michelle Flewelling had called minor and mostly addressed a few billing inconsistencies. Bills were being committed to the town’s tax collector, but they actually are supposed to go to the treasurer. In Fairfield, both positions are filled now by the same person, but town officials said it’s an inconsistency that needed to be addressed.

Another issue being addressed is when bills are payable. With the new language, bills are due and payable 30 days after the date of the billing. The previous language had specific dates, which Flewelling said was not followed.

A new section involves a person using water that will not enter the sewer system, such as water used for pools. With the new language, residents would be able to rent an external flow meter from the town so a credit toward consumption amounts may be calculated.

Flewelling said the council recently approved increased sewer rates. The rates went from $51.30 per 1,000 cubic feet of water per quarter to $58.40 a quarter, and the increased money would be used toward general maintenance of the facilities. Flewelling said the town’s sewer operating budget has “been in the red” for a number of years. In 2015, the town agreed to raise the rates with the goal of annual adjustments to follow. However, she said with changes in the town administration, those adjustments were put on the back burner until now.

Another proposed amendment to the ordinance involves how much revenue for retiring debt services, capital expenditures, operation and maintenance come from sewer charges. The previous language said no less than 90 percent of that revenue would come from user fees, while the new proposed language says no less than 50 percent.

Councilors also discussed plans for a potential Fourth of July celebration in 2018. Last winter, Fairfield was one of the towns considered as the replacement home for the former Winslow Family 4th of July Celebration. However, organizers eventually settled on Clinton, with the new name the Central Maine 4th of July: The Great American Celebration.

Council Chairman Michael Taylor said he was approached by the organizers of the impromptu Waterville parade held July 4, who, Taylor said, thought Fairfield would be a better venue. Taylor said his understanding was that the group would do all the organizing of the parade and would just seek town approval.

“It would be nice to have some small celebration” without also having added festivities and expenses of a larger event, Taylor said.

Councilors said they did not object to that.

Flewelling said the next step will be for the organizers to contact the Town Office to begin the planning process. She said multiple meetings would be needed, and the final plan would be subject to Town Council approval.

Sticking with the Fourth of July, councilors also discussed the town’s fireworks ordinance. The use of fireworks is allowed only a few nights a year, with the deadline for firing them off almost always being 10 p.m. However, on July 4, the deadline is pushed to 12:30 a.m. Taylor said he had heard a few complaints from residents who were bothered by the late fireworks, with some saying the fireworks were still being set off after 12:30 a.m. While some councilors mentioned it could be troublesome to residents who had to work early the next morning, the 12:30 a.m. deadline was not unreasonable. Councilor Aaron Rowden pointed out there are also residents who might have to work late and who would otherwise miss the chance to set off fireworks.

Councilors were in agreement that the ordinance does not need to be changed.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @colinoellis

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