SPRINGFIELD – The new Springfield Water and Sewerage Commission budget went into effect Thursday, fueled by millions of dollars in federal and state financial assistance for major renovations and a 5.9% rate hike for clients.
The rate hike was recently approved by a three-member commission after a public hearing and would have been significantly higher had it not been for low-interest loans from the federal and state governments, according to the commission’s executive director, Josh Schimmel.
The average homeowner’s bill for water and sanitation services is estimated at $ 1,303.75 for fiscal 2022, which reflects an annual increase of $ 78, officials said.
The Commission approved a total operating budget of $ 80.4 million for fiscal 2022, including operations, maintenance and debt servicing, up from a budget of $ 77.9 million last fiscal year.
In addition, the commission approved a capital budget of $ 298 million, which will be implemented on an accelerated five-year schedule.
Schimmel recently said that the Federal Water Infrastructure Funding and Innovation Act recently allocated about $ 251 million in low-cost funding for water and sanitation projects, and the state’s Drinking and Clean Water Revolving Fund allocated $ 46.7 million for projects.
Both sources of funds include large loans at low interest rates and some debt relief under the government program and will save taxpayers a total of $ 80 million over the next two to three decades, officials said.
Schimmel said major improvements are badly needed given the age and condition of the city’s water and sewer systems.
A joint effort by the commission and staff to attract large, highly competitive, low-interest loans helped “support the unprecedented and inevitable investment required for our water and sanitation system,” Schimmel said.
The commission said that since July 1, the water tariff for residential buildings has increased from $ 3.96 per 100 cubic feet to $ 4.19 per 100 cubic feet, up 5.9%. Household sewerage charges increased from $ 6.25 per 100 cubic feet to $ 6.62 per 100 cubic feet, also a 5.9% increase. The increase will be reflected in invoices issued in August.
The commission said it continues to offer several financial assistance programs to help clients pay their water and sewer bills, including flexible payment plans and monthly discounts for seniors, disabled people, and veteran homeowners.