Pomfret eyes water rate hike

OBSERVER Photo by M.J. Stafford Pomfret Town Attorney Jeff Passafaro, right, explains a legal point to town board members, from left, Christopher Schaeffer, John Sedota and Ann Eckman.

Three water districts within the town of Pomfret might see rate hikes in the coming fiscal year.

Deputy Supervisor Ann Eckman told the Town Board at its January meeting, “It has been suggested that we potentially raise 20 cents per 1,000 gallons (of water used) to raise money for operations and maintenance.” She explained that the town bills users in the North End, Berry Road and Chestnut Road districts at the same rate it buys water from the village of Fredonia for those areas.

In the absence of Supervisor Don Steger, the board decided to table action until next month. Eckman emphasized that the board would need to take action next month in order to have the hike go into effect for the March billing cycle.

Eckman told the OBSERVER after the meeting that the districts can’t build up any surplus because the rates are the same. “We’re just trying to figure out what we potentially need to do for maintenance … each district pays for its own repairs,” she said.

There are other areas in Pomfret, towards the western and southern ends of town, that are in the new North County Water District. The board ratified an intermunicipal cooperation agreement for 2019 with the NCWD at the meeting.

In other news from Pomfret Town Hall:

¯ The Town Board held its annual reorganizational meeting prior to its regular meeting. It formalized salaries for the year, including for Highway Superintendent Jude Gardner, who will take home $63,778; Town Clerk Allison Dispense, $39,612; and Supervisor Steger, $12,000. The town board members will each get $4,500, except Eckman will get an additional $600 because she was renewed as deputy supervisor.

Among appointments, Ann Rankin and EvaDawn Bashaw were named deputy clerks and Charles White the deputy highway superintendent, with Jeff O’Brien filling in for him temporarily because he is on medical leave.

During the reorganization session, the board also did things such as go over its policy for town employee holidays, sick days and personal leave; accepted an insurance policy with benefits unchanged from 2018; kept their meetings on the second Wednesday of each month at 6:30 p.m.; appointed committees; and named the OBSERVER the town’s official newspaper.

¯ Gardner told the board during his report that a fallen tree recently smashed into the roof of the new maintenance building in Forest Hill Cemetery. “It did some significant damage to the roof… I’m in the process of getting estimates for repairing the roof,” he said, adding that the damage is too severe for town employees to repair themselves.

¯ The board authorized the use of landfill tipping credits for waste from the county Land Bank’s demolition of the building at 4627 W. Main St. Eckman said after the meeting that the residential property has fallen into disrepair and the Land Bank took it over. She explained that use of town credits is standard in such cases so the Land Bank does not have to pay landfill usage costs.