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Village of Oakfield residents will see their water rates jump by about 7.5 times the normal rate of increase next year.

The Village Board has approved a rate hike from $3.35 per thousand gallons to $4.00 per thousand, effective January 2012. That $0.65 increase factors out to about a 19.4% increase.

To put it in perspective, over the ten-year period from 2001 to 2010 village water rates only rose about 26.4% – a total of $0.70.

The rate hike was announced by Village Mayor Rick Pastecki in a special-edition newsletter mailed out to Village residents. In it, he explains that the rate hike is a product of former Village Boards being reluctant to make significant increases:

"The water rates have increased incrementally over the years to the current (rate). Any deficits in the water budget were paid with unappropriated fund balances.
Our water system is presently running at a slight deficit...this cannot continue. Our fund balance is diminishing and the water system has to pay for itself."

The water rate increase will allow the Village water fund to break-even for the first time in years.

And that's not the end of it. The Village of Oakfield is also readying for a water tower and water transmision pipe replacement project, to replace the aging water delivery system. Total costs is estimated at $3.4-million. Even with a combination state grant and federal loan, the project will still lead to another rate hike for Village residents.

Speaking with WBTA News today, Pastecki said the costs are a reality most municipalities will soon face.

"Other villages and towns will say, 'Well, we have a lower water rate.' Give it time," he warned.

"I've talked to people who repair water lines, and they tell me the infrastructure is outdated, and in need of repair," he says. Pastecki calls it "a national crisis," and says older municipalities across the country will soon be hiking rates to fix century-old water systems.

"Hopefully, people understand that this is not a new problem," Pastecki said, "and that we're dealing with this now."

 

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