Cohasset STM Says No to Water Dept. Rules and Reg. Amendments

The one person who can kill any article at any Cohasset Town Meeting with one nasty question is…. WAYNE SAWCHUK.

Sawchuk did it again at Monday’s STM when he told Water Chair Leonora Jenkins “I’m against this. I don’t think you’ve thought it all through. Do you have an accurate figure?” From that moment on the article was doomed.

Jenkins had done some serious work on how to include more properties identified by the Board of Assessors as ‘other than single family” for each unit not having a Cohasset Water Department meter and receiving water service from the Town.

But when Jenkins had to answer SAWCHUK’s rat-a-tat questions she failed. She said 60 Elm Street would not be included in the $90 Capital Recovery Charge amendment. She wasn’t exactly sure about the Red Lion Inn…. maybe “a number of units could be affected.” Strip stores would be required. The meeting wanted it spelled out. Her plan wasn’t up to snuff.

Against the article, Selectman Karen Quigley joined the fray in an attempt to restrict the use of Capital Recovery Charges by making a motion to amend Article 8 as follows:

“And further that Town Meeting requests the Water Commissioners and Town Manager, as joint managers of the Water Enterprise Fund, use said charges for debt retirement and transfer by vote of Annual Town Meeting any of these charges not used in the fiscal year for debt retirement to the Water Debt Stabilization Fund.”

Even worse for Jenkins was that Quigley and Selectman Steve Gaumer had perhaps for the first time in a long time, agreed on something, against their board. A new two-some. Selectmen Martha Gjesteby, Diane Kennedy and Kevin McCarthy voted in favor of the article.

Quigley and Gaumer have been worried for some time now that the new rules and regs with regard to the Capital Recovery Charge does not achieve parity in any sense of the word. Both have been dropping strong hints that Cohasset Water desperately needs a rate study. The Department of Revenue has been asking for a rate study since 2011. In 2011 town officials thought they could handle things themselves. Not so much it seems.

Jenkins wanted to add some new people to her Capital Recovery Charge customer list, but after some back and forth questions, it was revealed that Jenkins and her commission might need some professional help. And that’s no crime. Jenkins has a good head for figures, but a rate study specialist knows where to go, how to achieve parody. And a rate study professional is how you avoid lawsuits and achieve that parody. Several weeks ago at a selectmen’s meeting Agnes McCann knew something was wrong about all of this.

Enter…Jack Keniley, Capital Budget Chairman. Keniley says he’s against both Quigley’s motion and Jenkins’ rules and regs amendment. “We’re losing track of the process.” Now Article 8 is doomed forever.

Gaumer and Peter Pescatore, Advisory Chief, go into the history of the hydrant fees. The truth of the matter is, no town departments pay their water bill and the schools are the worst. Jenkins is exactly correct.

Quigley worries that in sometime in the future when water debt decreases the town will become confused and a portion of the debt recovery charge will no longer be needed for capital recovery and will instead be directed towards operational costs.

Enter stage right…Ron Goodwin. He sees his rent going up. He sees his landlord putting in 9 new meters and he is one of them.

Stage left…Fran Collins has two apartment rentals and the water bill will be his. He says he’s trying to hold onto his retirement money. “I’d like to keep some of it.”

Article 8 is defeated. Quigley’s amendment is defeated. Town Manager Chris Senior will work his special magic with Water Commissioners to appease the Department of Revenue with some funds from the Town Treasury, and all will be well with the world.

A rate study is expected.

© Copyright 2014 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed