Review of Water and Sewer Rates, Rate Structure, and Fee System
The Town of Brookline selected Weston & Sampson to complete a review of the town’s water and sewer rates, rate structure, and fee system. The water and sewer departments are enterprise funded, but in recent years have been having difficulty raising adequate revenue to cover current year costs.
The trend of decreasing water sales has been ongoing for several years, apparently due to conservation, demographic changes, and wetter than normal summers. In addition, the town was experiencing increases in costs, especially from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) for water supply and sewage treatment. This has led to rate increases, yet the increases did not provide enough revenue, resulting in decreasing reserve fund balances.
Weston & Sampson’s evaluation included building a rate model that allows the town to review revenue impact from implementing an increasing block structure, billing for municipal water use, and charging fire protection “readiness to serve” fees. The model also allows for changes to expenses and water consumption trends. The model user is able to test many parameters to understand the impact on revenues and expenses. Ultimately a rate can be set based on historical data and future assumptions.