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Allenstown commission asks 2.25 percent sewer budget hike, but no decision on rates

Union Leader Correspondent

November 03. 2013 10:41PM

ALLENSTOWN — With the Allenstown Sewer Commission set to unveil its $2 million budget at tonight's meeting of the Board of Selectmen, the chairman of the commission said he is unsure if rates will increase.

Sewer Commission Chairman Larry Anderson said next year's budget of $2,044,892 will constitute a 2.25 percent increase over this year's budget, but that the commission has yet to determine if that increase will result in a rate hike.

"We haven't made up our mind if there will be an increase. There is a possibility that it won't increase at all; we won't know until we meet," Anderson said.

Anderson added that the commission included $500,000 in the budget for facility improvements that could end up saving the department, and ratepayers, considerable money in the long term.

"We are awaiting a report from the engineers before we do anything, but the upgrades we are thinking about implementing would result in a return on investment in only five years and save us considerable money after that," Anderson said.

Despite the budget increase, the commissioners work hard to keep the budget down.

"We do one heck of a job trying to keep the budget down and spend as little money as possible. We do the best we can. If anything, the budget increase in part is due in to forecasted price increases," Anderson said.

Despite having one of the more state-of-the-art facilities in the state, one that just opened a new $500,000 septage receiving station, Sewer Department Superintendent Dana Clement said that Allenstown and Pembroke ratepayers (who have a contract with Allenstown), pay less than the average rate in the state.

"Our rate right now is $7.60 per thousand gallons treated; the average rate is $7.84; and we bill strictly on usage. That is the most equitable way we believe instead of charging a flat rate. Not a bad bang for your buck," Clement said.

With a facility that takes in 20 percent of the state's septage, Clement said that the facility is projected to earn $1.3 million this year.

"We have calculated that if we did not take in the hauled waste our rate would have to be $13 dollars per 1,000 pounds, which is well over the average," Clement said.

With eight full-time employees, Clement said that everyone in the department is constantly looking for ways to save money.

"The people here have been very involved in creating this facility. We do have to have outside contractors; however, we have been closely involved in the engineering and construction for all of the projects here. I don't know another facility that does what we do." Clement said.

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