WILTON — A public hearing on proposed water rate increases is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 18, at the Town Office and officials are considering other means of funding an upcoming waterline project.

Increasing the water and sewer rates has previously been discussed in order to reduce the amount of harmful “forever chemicals” in soil and water locally and to reduce contamination. The idea is to increase the rates for customers by 10% in January 2023, and another 10% the following year.

During the Select Board meeting Tuesday, Oct. 4, Water and Wastewater Superintendent Heinz Grossman gave the board an update on the status of funding for the upcoming waterline project. The Select Board also discussed the use of undesignated funds for the project, which is in need of funding.

In any case, “we’ve got to come up with some money someplace to get through this process,” Town Manager Perry Ellsworth said. This waterline project will need a total funding of around $10 million according to Grossman, and they are currently trying to qualify for more money to pay for planning and design, along with paying the engineers to do so.

Ellsworth brought up the idea of borrowing money from the town itself through the Undesignated Fund account. “I believe very strongly that there’s money that we could borrow from ourselves and utilize over the next year” in that account, he said.

Going about the process this way would reduce town costs as interest and bond counsel would not be needed. The project could be completed in six months to a year, and the money could be paid back with grant money that is already guaranteed.

The motion to go forward with the use of the undesignated fund was brought forward, then seconded by Selectperson Tiffany Maiuri. This would involve the use of $459,000 [not to be exceeded] from the Undesignated Fund for the waterline project, and the Select Board voted unanimously.

A special town meeting will be held on Oct. 25 in order to discuss this matter separately from the increased water and sewer rates.

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