TEWKSBURY -- The average Tewksbury homeowner will pay around $47 extra in property taxes next fiscal year after selectmen voted Tuesday night to shift an additional portion of sewer debt onto the tax levy.
The unanimous vote will move approximately $640,000 onto the tax levy to keep sewer rates from skyrocketing after projected revenue loss in the sewer enterprise fund, Selectman Scott Wilson said.
This is the last year sewer connection fees will be a major source of revenue for the town, resulting in a $642,852 budget gap.
Without the shift, sewer users would see a bill increase of $56.06 based on average usage, shooting the bill up to $487.54 from this year's $431.48.
"It just levels off the rates," Wilson said. "The residents next year were going to see a 12 percent increase, and now they're going to see a 1 percent increase or even no increase at all."
Town Manager Richard Montuori last month introduced the idea of paying for more of the debt by taxes, in hopes of lessening the impact.
The average Tewksbury homeowner will pay $47.10 more because of the tax-rate increase.
Wilson, whose home uses a septic system, said it doesn't make sense to have the 65 percent of residents currently on to the town's sewer paying of thefdebt.
"The selectmen all felt that at some point, even the septic users are going to end up on sewer, so why should we have just the 65 percent of town pay for everything?" he said. "Eventually, I'll move on, and I'll never have had to pay for any of that."
Half the debt service from the town's sewer project is currently paid by property taxes, while sewer users pay the other half in their rates.
State law allows boards of selectmen to transfer water- and sewer -debt recovery onto property taxes with no voter approval required.
For more on this story, see Thursday's Sun or visit http://www.lowellsun.com.