1) Water rates in Shrewsbury need reforming. There’s a big discrepancy between the high rates for residential users and the low rates for commercial users at consumption levels above 25,000 gallons/quarter. 2) I want to propose a new bylaw to correct that problem, but 3) I need some help — your help — to present it to town meeting.
1) The need for reform is obvious. Click on the article ‘Water Rate Increases Unfair to Residents’ at the top of this page. It shows conclusively that the new water rates were unfair to many residential water users compared to commercial users at similar consumption levels.
2) Several residents have asked me if anything could be done to get the selectmen to enact more equitable water rates, so I checked the General Laws of Massachusetts and found the following under Chapter 41, Section 69B:
“The water commissioners, or the selectmen authorized to act as such, in a town establishing a water supply or water distributing system under authority of section thirty-nine A of chapter forty shall have exclusive charge and control of the water department and water system, subject to all lawful by-laws and to such instructions, rules and regulations as the town may from time to time impose by its vote. ”
So it seems that the town could pass a bylaw that, at a minimum, could require all water rate changes to be approved by town meeting. (I have asked the Town Manager to have the Town Counsel give his opinion, and am hopeful of a prompt response.) Since the selectmen have perpetuated these unfair water rates and recently made them even more unfair, residents would have to place a petition article on the annual town warrant for such a bylaw to be proposed.
3) I am asking you for some help with this effort. I can draft the petition article (suggestions are welcome) and get the required signatures, but more is needed: a) town residents to contact their Town Meeting members urging approval; and b) some Town Meeting members who will commit to supporting the article at Town Meeting. It would also help to have someone work with me preparing and presenting the article at Town Meeting.
If you want to help, please send an email to 1) firstname.lastname@example.org, 2) email@example.com, or 3) contact an SRT member. The more people who support this effort, the more likely it will pass at Town Meeting the first time.
John Lukach, January 29,2016