MANCHESTER, N.H. – The average Manchester resident will pay an extra $3.50 a month on their sewer bill beginning next April to help defer costs on the largest Department of Public Works project in Queen City history.
The Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved the increase, which jumped to nine percent from the originally expected four percent increase prior to the request to the board on Tuesday night by Manchester Department of Public Works Director Tim Clougherty and Manchester Environmental Protection Division Chief Engineer Fred McNeill.
According to McNeill, the average Manchester resident’s sewer bill would be $512 a year with the nine percent increase, up $40 a year but still under the New Hampshire average of $766.
The increase from four to nine percent will last for the final two years of the original five years of the four percent increase after the project was approved, with an additional five years with the new nine percent increase from the base rate in place from when the project was approved.
McNeill and Clougherty provided an overview of the now $338 million Christian Brook project stretching from the Queen City Bridge to east of Mammoth Road, a combined sewer overflow upgrade approved in 2019, which is part of larger unfunded federal environmental regulation requirements the city has been undertaking in recent decades
Without the adjustment, McNeill and Clougherty told the board that the Manchester Environmental Protection Division, a division of the Manchester Public Works Department that provides wastewater collection and treatment for Manchester and portions of Bedford, Londonderry and Goffstown, would run a negative budgetary cash flow by the 2027 Fiscal Year due to debt service associated to the upgrade.
Alderman At-Large Joseph Kelly Levasseur said that many Manchester residents don’t understand the difference between their water bill and their sewer bill and that lack of awareness may impact revenue for other water-related projects.
Ward 10 Alderman Bill Barry said that the increase should be portrayed as $3.50 a month rather than five percent (going from the original four percent increase to nine percent), citing concern from constituents over utility prices.
“Everything is going up, and to add this to that, the elderly especially can’t afford these increases.”
The increase passed in a non-unanimous voice vote.