WESTERLY — Trash, water, the sewer system, and kelp are all set to receive consideration from the Town Council on Monday.
The council is anticipated to vote on the proposed 2019-20 water and sewer budgets as well as on the proposed transfer station budget during a meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. in Council Chambers at Town Hall. A resident's plans for a 10-acre kelp farm off of Napatree Point is also on the council's agenda.
The Water Department budget is proposed at $5.6 million, a 3.17 percent increase from the current budget. In April, the Board of Finance proposed keeping the base rate for residential customers of the water department at $88 and increasing the overage charge by 10 percent to $4.06 per 100 cubic feet (750 gallons) for consumption over 18,000 gallons.
The Water Department, which has about 16,000 customers, will pay for a $1.3 million water line replacement project on Canal Street with money in its current budget, but is looking at $300,000 in water pipe rehabilitation projects on Valley Drive and First Street in 2019-20. Replacement of mains on Potter Hill Road is also envisioned sometime before the state begins a project to rehabilitate the road.
The sewer budget is proposed to increase from $4.36 million to $5.2 million. The sewer system will require $992,645 worth of capital projects to upgrade the main plant and off-site pump station in 2019-20, according to estimates developed by Jacobs Engineering Group. The Texas-based firm operates the municipal wastewater treatment plant. An additional $5.5 million worth of projects will be needed for 2020-23, according to the company's estimates.
The sewer rate usage fee will remain constant at $306 per dwelling unit annually, but there is a proposed increase to the sewer ad valorem tax rate from $0.47 to $0.54 per $1,000 of assessed property.
The transfer station budget is proposed to increase from $2.44 million to $2.47 million. The finance board recommended potential increases in fees charged for disposal of construction debris and the cost of residential bags as a way to increase revenue.
The council will also consider terms of a proposed contract with the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation, the agency that operates the state's Central Landfill in Johnston. Under the one year deal, the current $47 per ton municipal solid waste disposal fee would remain in place. If the town goes over its allotted tonnage, the over-the-cap fee will increase from $67 per ton to $80 per ton
The council is also scheduled to talk about Joseph MacAndrew's plans for a sugar kelp farm in waters about 900 feet south of the Napatree Point beach. MacAndrew's application, which has been opposed by commercial, academic, and Watch Hill interests, is working its way through the state Coastal Resources Management Council review process. CRMC is accepting requests for a hearing on the application until June 17.
The council will also discuss whether to authorize the purchase of engineering site and survey plans for a proposed eco-trail along a portion of Winnapaug Pond in Misquamicut.
With an interim harbor management plan adopted, the council will consider abolishing the seven-member commission that was appointed several years ago to write the plan. In the future the council will be required to appoint a new five-member commission that will be charged with monitoring enforcement of the plan and advising the Town Council.