Anyone got an extra 2 million?

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Anyone got an extra 2 million?

Postby swamper on Tue Jun 21, 2005 2:53 pm

It appears that "incompetence" prevails on many levels. BTW...as I recall, being at the initial water tower design presentation... there WAS an alternative, less expensive design (though not sure by how much) presented which had to do with the type of tower as in domed and more visible rather than the flat MORE EXPENSIVE option. OH, WAIT...that would mean Cressman (who ENDORSED the more expensive design despite planning recommendations otherwise) would actually have to pass by and look at it every day HIMSELF since it was in HIS neighborhood. Too bad he's not as astute looking out for OTHER neighborhoods while looking out for his own. NIMBY-ism at its utmost. [img]images/smiles/icon_rolleyes.gif[/img]
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Postby tigerchief on Tue Jun 21, 2005 4:07 pm

TELL ME AGAIN WHY ANYONE SHOULD BELIEVE THE FIGURES QUOTED BY CRESSMAN IN THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE IN ORDER TO CAST A VOTE IN SUPPORT OF A WATER ENTERPRISE FUND ON JUNE 25TH??????........nope, not me!!!!!

Overhaul could hike water rates by 35 percent
By Joyce Pellino Crane, Globe Correspondent | June 16, 2005

TEWKSBURY -- Water bills in Tewksbury will rise as much as 35 percent this year, if residents decide on June 25 to overhaul the town's water operations.

The proposal would shift water expenses and revenues away from the town's operational budget and into a separate water fund. Tewksbury's tax collector would continue to issue bills semiannually and collect payments.

Proponents say that over the coming fiscal year, the new system, called a water enterprise fund, would wipe out a projected $892,000 deficit from delivering water to homes and businesses, shrink a $1.7 million deficit in the town's operating budget, and protect residents from drastic cuts in town services.

While the financial impact on water users will vary according to consumption, all revenues would be used for water operations, and surpluses could be used to pay for improvements in water-related infrastructure. Under the current system, revenues from water-rate increases would go into the town's general fund, which would not guarantee that surpluses would be used for infrastructure.

But not everyone is sold on the concept. Joseph P. Gill, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said he is concerned about the size of rate increases.

''The issue isn't so much the enterprise fund as that part of the fund proposal that included a rate increase of about 20 to 30 percent. What we've said to the town manager is, 'Prove to us that we're losing money and that the tax rate is actually supporting water that's delivered to the citizens,' " said Gill.

Town Manager David Cressman has said the town's overall budget has been subsidizing water operations for two or three years, since the town began borrowing funds for various water-related projects.

The cost of borrowing is a large factor in the losses related to water operations, said Donna Walsh, finance director, who added that debt service will increase by about $200,000 from this fiscal year to the next, and by an additional $370,000 in fiscal 2008.

''For many years, the water operation was on a positive basis," said Cressman, ''but over the past few years, it's gone negative to a deficit position."

Under the current system, water revenues for fiscal 2006 are projected at slightly over $3 million, with a deficit of $892,000. With the increased rates under an enterprise fund, revenues would rise to $4.5 million, according to Walsh.

The proposal splits the town's residential and commercial users, based on their consumption. The categories for homes are low consumption (0 to 60,000 gallons a year), average users (60,000 to 150,000), and high users (150,000 and more).

The current water rates are $3.75 per thousand gallons up to 150,000 gallons, and $4.50 per thousand gallons over 150,000. Under the new scenario, water rates would increase to $4.69 per thousand gallons up to 59,999 gallons, $4.88 for consumption from 60,000 to 149,999 gallons, and $5.06 for consumption beyond that.

According to Walsh, the annual bill would rise by $101, or 30 percent, for the average residential user; $34, or 25 percent, for the low-volume user; and $267, or 35 percent, for heavy users. The increased rates are expected to raise about $953,000 in additional revenues.

This would be the town's first water rate increase in 12 years, said Walsh.

The deficit in water operations was discovered this spring after Selectman Jerome Selissen spearheaded a detailed study that considered such overhead costs as long- and short-term debt, staff salaries, and health insurance for current and retired personnel.

Cressman and Selissen presented their findings on May 17. Selectmen will vote next Wednesday on whether to recommend the plan to the June 25 Town Meeting, which would provide final approval.

Gill and Selectman John F. Ryan said they have not decided whether to support the fund. Selectmen John R. Mackey and Charles E. Coldwell could not be reached for comment.

''Selectmen are still on the fence," said Gill. ''The reason is, we have to be satisfied in our own mind that it's a cost shifting and not a backdoor tax increase."

Noting that the new billing procedure would reward people who conserve water, Selissen said he favors the enterprise fund. ''It's more equitable that your water rate should be based on usage," he said.

Residents with swimming pools, for example, draw upon the town's water supply more than residents who live alone and use water only for washing and drinking, he said.

Cressman is proposing the enterprise fund as a way of narrowing the projected deficit in the town's $71 million operational budget for fiscal 2006, which begins July 1. If Town Meeting rejects the idea, sharp cuts in town programs and services will be necessary, said Cressman, who declined to detail the cuts, saying they are still under discussion.

Gill acknowledged that the town could face ''severe cuts" that would ''affect the infrastructure of the community."

A few years ago, the town engaged in several water-related infrastructure projects, including sewer lines, water mains, a water storage tank, and fire hydrants. In addition, Walsh said, the state has required the town to replace water meters in homes and businesses over the next five years at an estimated cost of $2.5 million.

The enterprise fund will include an annual $25 fee per user to cover some of those costs, and an article at Town Meeting will seek approval to borrow $500,000 in each of the next five fiscal years for the project.

Joyce Pellino Crane can be reached at crane@globe.com.
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Anyone got an extra 2 million?

Postby Harry on Wed Jun 22, 2005 12:36 am

Today's Lowell Sun

Water woes continue with Tewksbury tank

By VANESSA HUGHES, Sun Staff
Lowell Sun

TEWKSBURY -- Bids for the town's new 6 million-gallon water tank are in, and all of the contractors vying for the project say they can do it for about $9 million.

The problem is that Town Meeting approved the tank for $7.25 million, the amount they were told the project would cost.

Even the lowest bidder was about $2 million over the estimated cost, said Selectmen Chairman Joe Gill, and each of the bids are similar.

“It was shocking,â€￾ Gill said. “We have to find out what happened.â€￾

Gill said the tank proposal and cost estimate, prepared by Cambridge-based CDM, must be looked at closely to determine why the estimate was so far off from the bids.

He said the next step is unclear. In some cases, the town would simply put a project out to bid again if contractors submitted proposed costs that are well above estimates and also vary widely. But in this case, he said it does not appear that rebidding the project would shrink the price by $2 million.

“The fact that everybody came in within $100,000 of each other indicates it was a massive mistake that was made,â€￾ Gill said.

Town Meeting unanimously approved funding the water tank Oct. 5.

The town plans to borrow the money over 20 years and secured a 2 percent low-interest loan to pay for $6 million of the total cost.

The tank was slated to be constructed later this summer at the Colonial Drive sand pit.

When it was approved, officials expected the tank to be completed by fall 2006. The structure is designed to be built underground with a flat roof.

Town Manager David Cressman said the town received three bids on the project.

He declined to detail the exact bids, but confirmed they are each up to $2 million over the estimated cost.

He said he is waiting for answers from CDM before commenting on any steps the town may take to ensure the tank is constructed on time and for the approved cost.

“I really think it's critical that CDM review and respond to this,â€￾ Cressman said.

He said he does not expect to have an explanation until Monday night, when the town's Water Study Committee meets to discuss the problem.

Vanessa Hughes' e-mail address is vhughes@lowellsun.com.
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Anyone got an extra 2 million?

Postby tigerchief on Wed Jun 22, 2005 12:45 am

ROTFLMAO.....OK, that's it!!!!!.....enough already guys, you guys are killing me!!!!!!......ol'tiger just can't take anymore of this .....lol
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Postby tigerchief on Wed Jun 22, 2005 12:52 am

WHAT'S NEXT????.........oh, I got it!!!!!

Remember that $800k State grant for the Senior Center....we aint gettin it!!!!

or....you remember that $3+mil of annual mall tax revenue......well in reality it is just over $500k annually.....
STOP, PLEASE STOP......ol'tiger is dying here!!!!!
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Anyone got an extra 2 million?

Postby tigerchief on Wed Jun 22, 2005 12:59 am

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Postby sean_czarniecki on Wed Jun 22, 2005 6:05 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by tigerchief:
Noting that the new billing procedure would reward people who conserve water, Selissen said he favors the enterprise fund. ''It's more equitable that your water rate should be based on usage," he said.

Residents with swimming pools, for example, draw upon the town's water supply more than residents who live alone and use water only for washing and drinking, he said.
================
The enterprise fund will include an annual $25 fee per user to cover some of those costs.....
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Sorry, but I still don't see how the new system rewards people who conserve water any more than the old system. We are billed on how much water we use in either system. The only difference is how money gets used.....and seeing another $25 user fee doesn't make sense to me since the rates are already going up - hide the fee in the rate so that people only feel ripped off once....
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Postby shot-n-mist on Wed Jun 22, 2005 6:50 am

Hi Sean... I expect there is something that I just don't understand with this proposed water billing change. This is my thinking.

Lets say $100 of my property tax is now dedicated to water related expense.

Now that $100 will be billed separately on my water bill.

I don't think I'm going to get a reduction or rebate on my property tax, so I'm looking at this from the standpoint that the original $100 is going to be spent elsewhere and this is a disguised tax increase.

Sure would appreciate it if you, or someone else, could tell me where I'm off on this.... Thanks.
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Postby DollarDaze on Wed Jun 22, 2005 8:04 am

shot-n-mist says,

"I don't think I'm going to get a reduction or rebate on my property tax, so I'm looking at this from the standpoint that the original $100 is going to be spent elsewhere and this is a disguised tax increase."

I agree with your thinking. Surely, the funds that are taken out of the general fund for water expenses will then be spent on other increasing town expenses, like salaries and pensions. Surely, our taxes will go up the maximum 2.5% every year. The water enterprise fund gives the town manager more of our money to handle (OR MISHANDLE).

Does anyone know if payments to the water enterprise fund are tax deductable? I think that they are not.
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Postby duffyhouse on Wed Jun 22, 2005 9:17 am

I am voting NO on the Water Enterprise Fund article, for many reasons. I agree with you, Sean, that this article would not be more "fair" to users, or as Sellisen states in the news article..."Noting that the new billing procedure would reward people who conserve water, Selissen said he favors the enterprise fund. ''It's more equitable that your water rate should be based on usage," "

ALSO, CDM is, and has been, involved with Sellisen's Water Study Ccommittee as their consultant.

AND they, CDM, just made a $2M mistake on the water tower estimates!

So how can I trust that the study committee's findings are accurate?
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Postby lifelongresident on Wed Jun 22, 2005 9:50 am

bottom line is that it is a back door tax increase!
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Postby KAV on Wed Jun 22, 2005 10:08 am

OK.. I'm going to ask some questions some of you may think are stupid.. but bear with me.. I'm just a typical homeowner and I am trying to clarify what I'm reading.

First question is regarding this part
"While the financial impact on water users will vary according to consumption, all revenues would be used for water operations, and surpluses could be used to pay for improvements in water-related infrastructure. Under the current system, revenues from water-rate increases would go into the town's general fund, which would not guarantee that surpluses would be used for infrastructure. "
and
"water revenues for fiscal 2006 are projected at slightly over $3 million, with a deficit of $892,000. With the increased rates under an enterprise fund, revenues would rise to $4.5 million"

I read that as: Currently, we pay a certain amount for water.. it is billed separately from the tax bill, so they know how much they take in. Does the $892K anticipated deficit mean they aren't collecting enough in water fee's to run the water treatment plants and/or provide water/sewage so in turn they take that money from the taxes collected? If yes, then wouldn't a simple water rate increase to cover that deficit solve that problem? I understand we have issues with the water availability, yada yada.. but .. why does that require us to create this whole new thing of the enterprise fund? Isn't the same thing achieved by having a water budget that is maintained correctly? Who would "allow" the surplus to be spent elsewhere just because it's in the "general fund" if it is being allocated toward infrastructure costs?

I don't understand what is gained by separating it out... except for possibly it opens some legal loophole that isn't mentioned anywhere that allows them to raise the rate by the 30/35% like they are planning.

If it goes through and they skyrocket the rates as planned, I hope there's something in there that force the surplus spending to be approved.
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Postby swamper on Wed Jun 22, 2005 10:49 am

BINGO!!! ....this IS a backdoor tax....enough is ENOUGH already with these constant "bait and switch" tactics under the guise of "what's good for the town"....vote NO on Saturday...but most importantly BE THERE for the Town Mtg. 10am at TMHS....can't stress enough the importance of that alone!
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Postby swamper on Wed Jun 22, 2005 2:31 pm

FYI...add Sellisen to that list for April 2006. Gill and Coldwell are up the year after that in 2007. (Right around the time Gill should be reaping that first Mills' mall $3 mil. revenue check....NOT!!!) [img]images/smiles/icon_razz.gif[/img]
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Postby tsantora on Wed Jun 22, 2005 2:57 pm

The "Mangeler" recommends water rates....and the "Bored" approves same....


Does this statement mean we aren't voting for the new water deal? Sorry but I'm a bit confused. I plan on going to the high school at 10 on Saturday and now wonder if I'm voting there or going to the polls to vote...help.
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