Mansfield tax rates to increase to fund FOur Corners sanitary sewage project

The Mansfield Town Council for the upcoming budget approved a 66 percent increase in the water and sewage rates for Mansfield residents, in addition to an increase in taxes to fund the Four Corners sanitary sewage project.

Mansfield water and sewage is supplied partly by the University of Connecticut and partly by Windham. Consumers supplied by Windham will have an increase of 8.6 percent for the 2014-2015 fiscal year, while those supplied by UConn will have an increase of 66 percent.

The reason for this increase in rates, according to Town Manager Matthew Hart, is to help front the cost of needed upgrades for the pump stations. While a portion of the fees in previous years have been set aside as a resource in case repairs were needed, additional funding is needed by Windham to update their system.

Mansfield residents that are connected to the Windham Water Pollution Control Facility will have an 8.6 percent increase of their rates.

Most properties supplied by UConn will have a more drastic increase in their rates, like the Weeks Trailer Park and the Courtyard Condos.

While some consumers such as those located at University Plaza, which include Oriental Café, Cut to the Chase, Randy’s Wooster Street Pizza, Storrs Laundromat and D.P. Dough, will have a decrease in their rates, the net increase in rates for all accounts supplied by UConn will total 66 percent.

According to Hart, this increase to those supplied by UConn is due the allocation of pump station operating costs to all customers.

Because the water and sewage rates are separate from the overall tax bill, “ratepayers will receive a bill within the next three to four weeks,” Hart said.

This increase in rates is in addition to the $3 million that Mansfield taxpayers will have to pay in order to build the Four Corners pipeline.

Construction on the pipeline was scheduled to begin this spring, but certain environmental studies and permits must be conducted before construction can be initiated.

This includes an environmental impact evaluation, which is required by Connecticut because Mansfield is receiving a $3 million state grant for the project.

“The EIE process will require us to adjust the schedule and we will not initiate construction until 2016,” Hart said.

Mansfield must also acquire a diversion permit from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, which allows the transfer of water from Shenipsit Lake through the pipeline.

They “do not expect that decision will be issued until at least June,” Maureen Westbrook, Vice President of Customer and Regulatory Affairs at Connecticut Water Company, said.

Connecticut Water is “prepared to begin work upon receipt of the required permits,” Westbrook said.

Once construction does begin, there will be lane closures on Route 195 and Route 44. Connecticut Water has developed a communication plan that will provide residents with information on the construction schedule and traffic impacts, and will provide an option for people to sign up for email and text updates.

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