I had to sit down after I opened my latest water bill yesterday. The rates, bills, tiers and meter charges are confusing, unfair and out of control. Every candidate for public office during the next election cycle needs to make this issue front and center. No one in this city will have the means to pay additional monies to fund technology, salaries, infrastructure or GIC for the Aldermen because all their dollars will be going to pay for water! I will have to eliminate most of my flowers and forget about a vegetable garden next year.
Instead of wasting all of the water with your lawn and garden sprinklers and then complaining about your bill, invest in a rainwater collector. It is much more efficient and "green"
You seem to have completely missed the point.
No, I got it. Live green...save the planet/save money.
Incorrect assumptions Mr./Ms. Green. I have a rain barrell and I do not have much of a lawn or an irrigation system. Yet, my water bill is significantly higher this time. 5 people in my household. Laundrey, showers and every day water use charges are impacting my budget. With soaring electrical rates, higher food prices and my family health insurance costs which I personally pay (unlike taxpayer funded GIC Aldermen ) I'll have to cut back on my water usage somehow. Flower and vegetable growing are choices (even with a rain barrell and no irrigation system) I will have to consider.
Agree with Sticker Shock and feel the same. Have multiple rain barrels, flush only when necessary, do all appropriate conservation things, have reduced consumption, and now face bills that will affect basic quality of life and whether my family will stay in Melrose. Perhaps this is what Dolan wants, for most of us to leave so that he and DellaRusso can get a new bunch of gullible residents. It's not acceptable. This was a boondoggle, as is the scheme to replace water meters. The tier system is wrong, it punishes citizens, even those who conserve, it will drive out many good families who are the lifeblood of a good community. Everyone should be listening to Gerry Mroz who presented a detailed and factual analysis, to which only Monica Medeiros responded appropriately. The rest of them made this into a done-deal bag job. Shame on Conn for hiring that idiot of a consultant, and shame on the rest of them for buying into this very bad scheme that is hurting the entire community.
My spouse and I have four children, and one in-law living with us. We're being discriminated against for having seven people living in the house. We not only pay for our higher than average use, as we should, they also charge us higher rates on the higher usage.
If they're going to keep these stupid tiers, make them per person instead of per house. That would solve the problem for the condos like Melrose Towers too.
To simplify: if you live in a house alone, you are charged for your usage at a certain tier. If you live in a house with 6 people, your usage is, of course, much higher, and you are not only paying for your higher usage, but at a higher rate because your collective usage through that meter places you in a higher tier. You are essentially paying more for each individual's usage than the person living alone.
If a condo doesn't have individual meters, all the condo's usage goes through one meter, placing that meter into the highest tier, so each condo owner's share is billed at the highest tier, even if they live alone and use very little water. The tier system is perhaps the very worst way to calculate water bills.
Example: a little old lady on social security living alone in a condo with only one meter pays the highest rate, while a single guy living in a million dollar house pays at the lowest rate, even when they both use exactly the same amount of water. It's grossly unfair, and the alderman didn't have the collective balls to put a stop to it - with one notable exception.
It is a disgrace, and how the aldermen can look at themselves in the mirror escapes me.
Why not do it like real estate? Have a commercial rate and a residential rate. You simply pay the same rate for your usage as everyone else. If you use more, you pay more.
"Dello Russo explained. “At the end of the day, we have to determine a structure and set a rate. We can’t change it mid stream because that’s foolishness and would cause stress. We have to say where are we today and if we change X and Y, how does that affect next year?”"
Talk about FOOLISHNESS!! This is the guy who left Plymouth with a huge debt because of his mismanagement of water/sewer. Sure, make a bad decision and stick with it. That's real foolishness! Happy Thanksgiving to all the jerks who have caused an entire community "stress" and couldn't care less!
Water and sewer rate reductions for multiunit buildings?
By Jessica Sacco
Posted Nov. 26, 2014 @ 12:43 pm
Condominium and apartment complex owners grappling with high water and sewer rates could potentially see a reduction in price if they choose to individually meter units.
Representatives from condos and apartments attended the city’s Water and Sewer Committee meeting on Nov. 20 to continue a discussion about Melrose’s rate structure.
The city implemented a new three-tiered water and sewer fee system in 2013 that charges residents based on their consumption.
Quarterly usage is determined from a resident’s water meter. The first step of the tiered structure covers citizens who use 1,000 to 2,000 cubic feet of water. Tier two encompasses 2,001 cubic feet to 10,000, followed by tier three, for those consuming more than 10,000 cubic feet of water.
Members from apartment complexes and condos throughout the city argue that because they run on one central meter for all water use, they are billed at the third tier, which is not a fair representation of their consumption habits.
They asked city officials to consider averaging the total water and sewer bill by the number of units in a building, ultimately moving buildings to the lowest tier.
“It seems to me the simple solution for all condos in the city is that you read the big meter, divide it by the number of units in the condo, come up with the average rate, and then charge it to the condo,” said Harold Hawkes, an owner at the Melrose Towers Condominiums.
Last week, John Scenna, director of the Department of Public Works and chairman of the Water and Sewer Committee, said the city will continue to stay the course and not implement an averaging system.
Scenna explained taking a building’s entire bill and dividing it by the amount of units would not accurately depict the amount of water an individual unit used.
If condos want to individually meter units, however, the city will work with owners and residents in those buildings.
Individual meters are not possible for apartments, however. Melrose must be able to lien a property for any unpaid debt (such as a water/sewer bill), which can only be implemented on those who own a property.
“We have to be based truly on consumption, which requires metering,” Scenna said. “The state does allow a landlord to sub meter if you want, by apartment, by business. We don’t do that. The norm is one building, per meter in that regard.”
Because condo owners would have to foot the bill to individually meter units, many argued the expenses associated with the transition would be extremely costly.
The Water and Sewer Committee will meet again in January to further review rate figures and next steps for the upcoming fiscal year.
“We’ll have more to bring to the table about what’s working and what isn’t,” Scenna said. “That’s what happens from here. It’s not over, but this is the direction we’re taking at the moment.”
Averaging vs. individually metering
Since their last meeting in October, committee members studied other communities’ tiered systems for water and sewer rates to see how cities and towns handled billing condos and apartments.
“There are some communities that implemented the unit method with great success and there are others who implemented the unit method and wished they didn’t after the fact,” Scenna said.
City auditor Patrick Dello Russo said the committee will spend the next three to four months looking at the tiered system and formulating next fiscal year’s rates.
Members will work to relieve financial stresses for the majority of people in Melrose and will study how an averaging method would affect homeowners.
“If you relieve on the left, the guys on the right are going to pay that difference,” Dello Russo explained. “At the end of the day, we have to determine a structure and set a rate. We can’t change it mid stream because that’s foolishness and would cause stress. We have to say where are we today and if we change X and Y, how does that affect next year?”
In the meantime, officials will help condo associations individually meter units as long as they meet four requirements:
There is an owner of record receiving a real estate tax bill for the unit;
The individual condominium unit has an internal plumbing configuration with a single water service having an accessible shut off;
The condominium unit is part of an association whose building is still serviced by a master meter, which accurately measures common water use throughout the balance of the building and has recently been calibrated;
The condominium association votes to authorize the installation of meters where applicable by the DPW.
“We’re willing to speak with any condo who would like to go this route,” Scenna said. “It’s a case-by-case basis.”
Absolutely right. The reason they did it this way is because it was the easiest way FOR THEM. They could care less about the individual taxpayer. Scenna hasn't got brains enough to come in out of the rain, and the disgraceful mess Dello Russo caused in Plymouth should tell you all you need to know about him, but for some reason Dolan thinks he's the greatest thing since sliced bread.
We're all being fleeced here. The local dems think they're better than the repugs, but in fact they are just as bad. Trash fees, extortionist water/sewer rates all amount to additional taxes--the ploy of repugs when trying to make it look like the "no new taxes", except that these are local dems who are getting away with this. Add to that all the public school fees now, embraced by the local dems supporting, in fact pushing these things. Time for a Melrose Tea Party revolt!
How do they have the stones to call this a "discount"? Some jerk steals $100 from me then gives me $5 back - is that a discount?
The solution is simple - the total water usage for all units in a building divided by the number of units = average per unit usage to arrive at correct tier for the entire building.
With reference to our water bills, the terms 'tier' and 'tear' could be used interchangeably!
Just received my winter season water bill $549.00! I am sorry folks but I cannot support an override for this city. Our water bills are beyond reasonable. How can you ask for more $$ when our taxes and water keep climbing. We seem to be pouring more and more money into the schools and nothing else. My future will not be in Melrose because I will never be able to afford to live here. No override vote in this household!
Mine was only $200 for my single family house with a family of 4. Not very different from before. Are you using an excess amount if water?
You used to be able to deduct your water bill from your taxes. No more. The Mayor and Aldermen put it in an
Eterprise Fund to avoid it being inclulded under the Prop 2 1/2 cap. The old shell game. They're all up for
re-election in November.
Finally opened the water bill. Its outrageous. The bill is twice as much as a few years ago using the exact same amount of water.
So I am paying 2016 water rates for water I used in 2015 ? This usage was in March, April, May so not even Fiscal 2016 which starts in July. I don't get this. I heard Monica Mederios was speaking about this on behalf of the Melrose community. Does anyone know what happened. Is this a common occurrence in other towns? I am so baffled by this. So you buy an item in April and someone tells you---oh we are going to charge you more because our prices are going up in July!
I have read the Mayors explanation on his blog about our outrageous water bills and I guess there is no solution and it looks like hikes will be in our future. I know there are young families in Melrose that are for the YES vote but there are a lot of us that simply cannot keep up with the cost of living in this town. I know this is going to start an uproar but do we really need a library media specialist? I think additional classrooms and teachers to help with overcrowding would be a better use of tax $$ than more administrators and pay raise again for CT and insurance for Alderman. Sorry.
I don't see many people disputing the Mayor's statements about the MWRA. The chief bones of contentions are these:
1. The tiered system. "In FY14 the Board of Aldermen, with the guidance of an independent consultant and a newly created Water and Sewer Commission, implemented a tiered system to help promote water conservation as well as control the rate of increase of rates. Below is a current breakdown of each tier. It should be noted that over 96% of residents fall into Tier 1 or Tier 2. The Water and Sewer Committee meets throughout the year, in meetings open to the public, to discuss issues relative to water and sewer that may arise.
Tier 1: 1–2,000 Cubic Feet
Tier 2: 2,001-10,000 Cubic Feet
Tier 3: Over 10,000 Cubic Feet"
This system is grossly unfair to those living in multi-unit buildings with only one meter. For example, if you're an 80 year old single person on social security living in the Melrose Towers, and your actual use is , say, 1500 cubic feet, you don't pay at tier 1. You pay at tier 3, because the single meter records usage of over 10,000 cubic feet for the entire building. That's just plain wrong.
2. Setting retroactive rates. Depending on when you are billed, you could be paying a higher rate per cubic foot than your next door neighbor, because their bill is issued on a different date, even though the bill is for the same quarter. That same Towers resident may be paying at an even higher tier 3 rate than his/her next door neighbor because of the date it was billed. That poor person is getting screwed twice.
I fail to understand how any other term but "legalized theft" describes both of these practices, and yet only one of our illustrious public officials, Monica Medeiros, has publicly decried either practice. In one instance, when she attempted to discuss this at the BOA, not one of her fellow aldermen would even give her the courtesy of seconding her motion for purposes of discussion, one of the most disrespectful and cowardly actions I have ever seen the BOA engage in, and I've lived here all my life.
For some reason, the City thinks both of these practices are just fine.
Thank you, "Look Again" for a coherent and perfect statement.
"I fail to understand how any other term but "legalized theft" describes both of these practices, and yet only one of our illustrious public officials, Monica Medeiros, has publicly decried either practice. In one instance, when she attempted to discuss this at the BOA, not one of her fellow aldermen would even give her the courtesy of seconding her motion for purposes of discussion, one of the most disrespectful and cowardly actions I have ever seen the BOA engage in, and I've lived here all my life.
For some reason, the City thinks both of these practices are just fine."
They did it again last night. Monica had an order out for consideration about increasing transparency, which they summarily (and very incoherently) dismissed, with bloviating from Tramontozzi, Infurna, etc. She wanted documents that are sent to the entire body automatically made part of the public record (as the public records laws already state clearly they are--but these idiots don't know or care!). The way it is now, when Robbie wants all of his friends to write their obnoxious pro-26% raise letters and Robbie's on-staff "experts" are called upon (on city time) to compile fake data to support his outrageous action, those things are absolutely part of the meeting packet and duly noted as part of the public record. Same with anything from their bozo paid consultants (like the wrong-headed jerk they hired to cook some data to make the whole water-sewer tiered thing and water meter boondoggle seem plausible). Sure as anything those cooked documents will make it into the meeting packets and minutes. But if it's a well-stated letter/document from a concerned citizen or worse, something "negative," then that won't be included. Bad enough that the work product of both BOA and SC is so poor and reflects such a lack of thoughtful input, but they just have to find a way to violate the laws besides. Monica's order was an attempt to correct some of that, and none of them would allow it to be considered fairly, let alone voted in as a simple and sensible thing. These people are supposed to be representing us, and they have apparently chosen to forget that! They are disgusting, with the exception of one member on each of the two boards (extending thanks to MM and CKK).
One correction: having just now watched the last two meetings, I see that Don Conn did put forth an order that would at least appear to address the retro-billing problem. We'll see how that works out.
Yeah, Conn did that, but then he turned around and dissed Monica's order, as he's been doing consistently. He's useless. He thinks he's so great and ethical, but he has zero backbone.
Tramontozzi and Infurna will lose to their challengers.
Sorry but need to vote NO on the override. I just opened up my 900.00 water bill! I understand they will increase again :(
I am just curious,I know that the hospital does not pay taxes but do they pay the water bill or do the taxpayers absorb it?
$330 for 3 months of water is outrageous! That's more than $1,300 in a year. I only used 1900 units. Add on $200 for trash and it's $1,500. Many times more than what we used to pay. Property taxes were way lower then, too. The override didn't pass but I'm already paying $244 more to the city. Time to recall Dolan.
Actually, although Recall would be an attractive option, it's time to gather a community group to fix our colossally screwed up charter to remove (1) the mayor from the School Committee, (2) put back a Recall option for citizens (there isn't one), (3) correct the language that would require a mayor to give up holdings in any other business (hence the reason why no one BUT RD will ever run), (3) fix the inexcusably poor language and typos, and many other fatal flaws that have resulted in the mess Melrose nows finds itself buried in.