Virtual Public Hearing on Changes to be Held Monday, Nov. 30 at 8 p.m.
LYNNFIELD — Superintendent John Scenna and the Lynnfield Center Water District (LWCD) Board of Commissioners would like to share information about proposed changes to the tax levy, which will be discussed at a virtual public hearing next week.
The LCWD Board of Commissioners will be looking to cut the tax levy to $0.46 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, which is a 50% decrease from last year. The current tax levy is assessed at $0.93 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. The LCWD tax levy assessment is found within the Town’s quarterly real estate bills.
Customers saw a significant increase in the tax levy rate last year as a result of unanticipated budget increases, lack of reserve funds and prior 2018-19 volumetric rates which were reduced to levels where they no longer created enough revenue required to balance budgets passed and in place.
In February, the current Board of Commissioner with Superintendent Scenna and consultant David Fox from Raftellis, an industry leader in utility system financing, voted to install a new volumetric rate structure. Those rates have been since applied to consumption bills issued by LCWD in June and September of this year. LCWD is currently preparing Fall quarter consumption bills to be issued in December. Information on this process and on the rates can be found online here.
“Early indicators support that the new rate structure is performing and meeting financial goals,” Dave Fox from Raftellis said, at a recent meeting with the Board of Commissioners. “I fully support the recommended reduction.”
Both Superintendent Scenna and Fox followed up by informing the Board that there are several variables in play this calendar year that must be carefully considered when evaluating revenue, most notably higher than average consumption from the COVID-19 pandemic. With only half a year of data to review, Fox added that additional savings could be realized in the future but only after more real data is reviewed in the coming year.
A public hearing about the changes will be held Monday, Nov. 30 at 8 p.m. The Board of Commissioners, who will be joined in discussion by the Town of Lynnfield Assessor, are expected to vote on the proposed changes at that time as well. The meeting will be held virtually via Zoom and information about how to attend will be posted on the LCWD’s website prior to the meeting.
“This change would help to further benefit our customers while also helping us to maintain adequate revenue stability,” Superintendent Scenna said. “We’ve seen great improvements after adopting our new volumetric rate and revised billing structure and are continuing to look at all of our operations to ensure we are providing our customers with the best possible service in the most efficient manner. The reduction in the tax levy is what we committed to from the onset of introducing new rates. We are very happy to be able to provide this reduction moving forward.”
In February of 2020, the LCWD adopted a new volumetric rate and revised billing structure, which features condensed tiers, base fees and quarterly bills rather than twice-yearly ones. More information about those changes can be found here. This change, which is in line with the industry best practices, allows the LCWD to collect the majority of its revenue from the volumetric rate (about 70%) as opposed to the tax levy. While some customers are still adjusting to the new approach, Chairman Joseph Maney said that the changes provide revenue stability, are within industry standards and will now allow us to focus on much needed capital improvements. LCWD plans to hold a District presentation to discuss said capital projects that look to address quality and quantity issues, on Monday, Dec. 14. Details on that meeting, also on Zoom, will be available in the near future.
LCWD raises its revenue through volumetric rates and an assessment on individual real estate bills. This money is used to help fund the department as well as support the cost of long-term capital projects. Industry standards have shifted to require collecting more revenue from volumetric rates, a trend that would have the overall cost of water to customers impacted more by water consumed than property value.
For more information, contact the LCWD at [email protected].