The Board of Aldermen rejected the establishment of a Water and Sewer Enterprise Fund at their meeting on Monday night. Believing that the Enterprise Fund would establish a new city agency that would increase water and sewer rates for local users without any oversight from either the Common Council or Board of Aldermen, the measure was defeated by a 4-2 vote.
“We are not blazing a new trail,” Aldermen Robert Van Campen said about the Enterprise Fund. “There are 200 communities in Massachusetts that have established these funds including communities like Revere, Chelsea and Malden.”
The fund would allow for more accurate accounting for the exact charges of the water and sewer revenues and expenses according to Van Campen. He noted that in some years the water rates were higher than they needed to be, so that the extra money went into the City’s General Fund. In other years, the water rates were less than what they needed to be and the taxpayers had to pay the difference regardless of who was using the water.
The crux of the problem for the Aldermen seemed to be that many of the large commercial meters are inaccurate in their readings allowing for these users to use larger amounts of water without being charged. The new commercial meters are expected to go out in the bidding process in February. The feeling is that the City coffers would be increased by more than $500,000 with the new meters Presently, this money is not being captured as a result of the faulty meters but the city is still being charged by the Mass. Water Resource Authority.
“This fund is not a bad idea,” Alderwoman Millie Cardello said. “However let’s get the corrections made before establishing it,” she added.
Mayor Carlo DeMaria and City Auditor Larry DeCoste appeared before the Aldermen to support the measure.
After the meeting Demaria said, “I think it’s unfortunate that the item didn’t pass, we’ve discussed this numerous times in committee and presented our findings to the Board appropriately. I agree with Alderman Van Campen, we have to use every tool at our disposal to keep our city moving forward. When we were asked to pursue this by the Board we found more pros than cons, much more than we expected and realized the enormous benefits to the city, similar to the 200 communities currently using these funds. I think it’s interesting that some understand the enterprise fund to be a spending device, when in reality this fund would be a great tool for controlling operational costs and create stronger management of the water and sewer department.
“If we’re going to continue to be a progressive city, we should have the ability to adapt new methods, new ideas and new procedures. We are now competing with other cities for development opportunities, so we have to show on paper and on the street that we’re making positive steps forward. While the current system isn’t broken, there’s nothing to say that it shouldn’t be changed."
Congratulations Alderman Sachetta
As the Board meeting was wrapping up and the Aldermen gave their customary wishes for Happy Thanksgiving to the citizens of Everett, it was noted that Alderman Sal Sachetta was celebrating his 80th birthday. A party was held by more than 150 family and friends on Sunday at the Hilltop. Happy Birthday to Aldermen Sachetta and may we be in as good a shape and as sound a mind when we hit that age.