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The Budget and Usage Charge History

A householder on the sewer line writes, in part:

I am writing to request an explantion of the 11.8% increase in sewer use quarterly charges for 2012. While I can understand that overall costs may have increased over the last several years, is there justification for such a high percentage increase over that period?

Also see:
 Fee Schedules
 Use Charges
 Rate increase 2012


Response: Below is a history of the WPCA budget for the last 13 years. The rate increase is now at an average of 3.5% per year since 2003. A big item is the cost of treating the wastewater flow by the regional treatment plant in Danbury, so that budget item is also shown. It is part of the total for each year. It has averaged 38% of the total operating expense. Another factor has been to budget to cover depreciation of equipment for sustainability. There is now a structured scheduled equipment replacement plan.

It is proposed to raise the unit rate to $420 per unit beginning FY 2017-18, the first increase in 5 years to cover additional costs of operations. The $40 increase over 5 years averages to about 2% per year. 

Prepared March, 2017. Numbers in blue are proposed for FY 2017-18

Year * Danbury Fees † Total Budget Unit Rate
  $, 000s $, 000s $/year
2017-18 322 1605 420
2016-17 310 1372 380
2015-16 274 1302 380
2014-15 398 1285  380
2013-14 470 1129  380
2012-13 442 1178   380
2011-12 428 1033   350
2010-11 382 977 350
2009-10 332 900 300
2008-09 292 814 300
2007-08 282 792 268
2006-07 282 791 268
2005-06 257 755 268
2004-05 251 632 268
2003-04 222 577 268

* The Fiscal Year runs from July to June

† The Danbury Fees are included in the Total for each year. 

Percent Budget Increases 2003-2016 - Basis Year: 2003-04

Year * Danbury Fees † Total Budget Unit Rate Ave Annual
  % Increase % Increase % Increase % Increase
2017-18 45 178 56 4.0
2016-17 98 137 42 3.2
2015-16 23 125 42 3.5
2014-15 79 122 42 3.8
2013-14 112  96 42 4.2
2012-13 99 104  42 4.7
2011-12 93  79 27 3.4
2010-11 72  69 27 3.9
2009-10 50  56 12 2.0
2008-09 32  41 12 2.4
2007-08 27  37  0
2006-07 27  37  0
2005-06 16  31  0
2004-05 13  10  0
2003-04  -  -  -

Over the years, the cost of operation in Brookfield has tracked roughly the same as the costs from Danbury to treat the waste. Costs have doubled in the last 10 years, while the rate has increased less than 50% for the same period. The increases in rates are less than the increases in costs due to more customers and operational efficiencies that have come in both the office and the field operations.

† There has been a dramatic reduction on the charge to process the waste flow. Major improvements to the Danbury plant were expensed in prior years and there were hefty Nitrogen credits to pay. Projects to reduce Nitrogen and Phosphorus are now completed.  

For years from roughly 2007 to 2010, the WPCA was operating at a loss. When the operations of the WPCA were separated from the town to form its own Enterprise Fund, as mandated by law, it was clear that operating at a deficit was not a sustainable situation. This was corrected beginning September 2010, but failed to take into account depreciation to build sufficient capital reserve to cover replacement cost of major items, like trucks and pumps, for example. This situation was corrected with the September 2012 billing. It is consistent with good practice to secure the future without any surprise assessments. The operations of the WPCA are accounted for as a standalone enterprise and are audited each year under the audit of the Town. 

Fiscal oversight is provided by commission of volunteers from Brookfield appointed by the Board of Selectman. Consequently, there is no management cost for the leadership of this enterprise. That is a substantial savings. See the About Us section for more on the Brookfield WPCA.