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The Use Charge for Brookfield Sewer Utility

The rate was stable 2017 to 2020 at $420 per year to cover costs and expansion. Rates have been be stable over the years, but increase from June 2021 and the next three years by $20 per year. That is,
$440 per unit per year June 2021
$460 per unit per year June 2022
$480 per unit per year June 2023
These rates are still below the CT averages. See the narrative was part of FY 2021-22 budget for a more thorough explanation.

Rate History

With the WPCA taking over its own finances in 2009, for the first time in Fiscal Year (FY) 2012-13 the budget was developed with an eye on depreciation and long-term sustainability.

With a complete inventory of assets there is now a good handle on a depreciation number to develop a reserve to provide for a sustainable operation. In 2020, a thorough Facilities Plan has highlighted upgrades needed for aging and elements of the system that need to be upgraded.

Prior to 2010, WPCA budgets were cash budgets only. For FY 2010-11 the usage fees were raised from $300 to $340 (per unit per year) to keep from running a deficit on a cash budget basis, as had been the case the previous 3 or 4 years. The $340 rate was held for 2-years knowing that depreciation was not properly covered. Having no good basis for the depreciation calculation, the rates were not increased until 2012.

Thus, the 2013 increased annual rate of $380 was a careful construct toward responsible sustainability without going overboard. Funding depreciation merits a fresh look each year. 

According to the CT DEEP, some CT WPCAs put nothing in reserve. Other towns build reserves to fund improvements and expansions. Brookfield is somewhere in between with the ability to fund recent and pending improvements as reflected in the capital budget. These infrastructure improvements are self-funded, mostly from unrestricted capital funds, without resorting to a loan or asking the Town for a grant. The Brookfield philosophy has always been that sewer users pay for this service.

In 2017 the rate was increased to $420 per unit. The rate was held at that level through 2020. But is now programmed for a step increase of $20 per year in 2021, 2022 and 2023 as shown above.

Plant Charge

For Fiscal Year 2021-2022, the Danbury Plant charge was rounded up to $40 per year. The amount needed is a best-guess. Danbury has been opaque as to the timing and the amount of the final obligation, which will depend on the final cost and the capacity assigned to Brookfield. We expect this will be resolved late 2023. These funds are set aside against the cost of the Brookfield share of the waste treatment plant upgrade cost which was completed April 2022. When the Brookfield share is known, the plant charge will be adjusted up or down to accommodate the loan.