The average Andover water customer would see their water bill increase nine percent to an average of $494.69 in the fiscal year beginning July 1 under a new rate plan presented to the select board Wednesday.
The proposed, five-tier plan outlines water rate increases through Fiscal Year 2029 and would replace a three-tier plan the Town adopted in 2019. Under the current plan, water bills would have risen 3.5 percent in FY 2024 from the current year’s average of $453.77.
Over the life of the proposed plan, the average Andover water customer will pay an addition $307 for water through Fiscal 2028 than they would have under the current plan. In both plans, water rates increase with consumption.
The new plan was developed by Andover Chief Financial Officer Patrick Lawlor. Town Manager Andrew Flanagan told the select board, which also serves as Andover’s board of water commissioners, the older rate plan would not cover a spike in the cost of chemicals and construction costs for the Town’s accelerated water main replacement program. The Town has 12 years until the replacement program is finished.
“We’re playing a little bit of a game of catch up in terms of the water enterprise” capital improvements, Flanagan said.
Wednesday’s presentation was a first reading of the proposal. Flanagan said Thursday he expects final approval to come at the select board’s April 24 meeting.
The old plan was adopted in FY 2019 and had 5 percent increases through the current year fiscal year, which ends June 30. Those rate increases would have dropped to 3.5 percent next year, and the annual rate increases would have held at 3.5 percent through FY 2028.
The old plan had bigger increases in the first four years so the Town could accelerate its waterline replacement work during road repairs following the 2018 Merrimack Valley gas explosions. “We actually dialed that back, which is where the [drop to the] 3.5 percent increase comes from,” Flanagan said.
Flanagan stressed that even with the rate increase, average Andover water bills would be smaller than those in several comparable and nearby Massachusetts municipalities.