Village of Potsdam plans changes to water and sewer billing method
Wednesday, June 20, 2018 - 9:03 am

By CRAIG FREILICH

POTSDAM -- The village expects to have its new water and sewer billing method implemented for bills in September.

The new method, incorporating what’s known as “equivalent dwelling units” (EDUs) for allocating some charges, is designed to be more equitable through calculating shares of fixed costs and consumption in different ways.

Under the revised method, houses or buildings of similar configuration will pay for an average of similar dwellings’ share of the system’s fixed costs. Usage will still be billed based on consumption.

The dwelling unit equivalent method is better suited for allotting shares of fixed costs such as labor and construction debt for treatment plants, which will not vary much with the amount of water through the plant, according to Development Authority of the North Country consultants. Metering is more efficient at allotting variable costs, such as volume of water, electricity for pumps, and chemicals to treat the water.

In figuring the rates, village officials decided that the fixed costs and usage costs will each be calculated to cover 50 percent of the village’s costs, rather than an uneven split that had been considered.

DANC consulting engineer Manasseh Burt presented a table of EDUs for different configurations of buildings and proposed rates for water and sewer use.

The basic unit, a single family dwelling, at one EDU, would pay $160.49 a year for fixed costs for water and $156.57 a year for sewer service fixed costs, plus $4.24 per 1,000 gallons for water and $4.14 per 1,000 gallons for sewer, based on meter readings.

Each one-family year-round residence, rural year-round residence with acreage, and each mobile home would be billed for their share of fixed costs as one EDU.

A two-family house or a single-family house with an accessory apartment would be billed for two EDUs.

Commercial apartment buildings would be billed at one EDU per apartment.

Most other buildings – businesses, schools, churches, and so on -- would be billed for fixed costs based on the previous year’s consumption, plus actual usage.

At a hearing on the plan Monday afternoon, the Board of Trustees heard from one resident, Bill Karadinas of 33 Main St., who lives there and has tenants upstairs.

His concern was that his house, with apartments, will be billed for more than one share of fixed costs even though the upstairs might be vacant during the summer.

The village board voted a year ago to change village law to reflect the new system of billing, but Clerk Lori Queor said the board will have to amend local law one more time, probably at their July meeting, to include EDU standards and rates in village law.

Village Administrator Greg Thompson said he hopes the billing structure will be ready for implementation in September.