Merrimack Council to be asked to boost rates for sewer users, brewery

MERRIMACK – This is the kind of rate increase most people can get behind.

Public Works Director Rick Seymour will ask the Merrimack Town Council tonight to increase residential and commercial sewer rates by 8 percent. That amounts to an extra $14 a year for the town’s roughly 5,000 residential sewer customers.

But the proposal also includes increasing Anheuser-Busch/In-Bev’s rates from $3.01 per 1,000 gallons to $7.50 per 1,000 gallons, Seymour said.

That’s because while the beer plant’s discharge has nearly halved in the past year, the amount of pollutants that need to be removed has stayed nearly the same. That means although there’s less wastewater to treat, it takes about the same amount of effort.

“The concentration of materials and the effort to treat it hasn’t changed,” Seymour said.

The increases would mean a $189 annual sewer bill for residents and an estimated $2 million, up from $1 million, for the Bud plant.

Rates for the town’s roughly 420 commercial users would increase from $2.47 to $2.66 per 1,000 gallons, Seymour said.

The rate-increase suggestions come from a sewer rate study that also includes a schedule for capital improvements and rate increases in future years to keep up with operating expenses, Seymour said.

In other business, the council will hold a public hearing on a proposed demolition ordinance that would encourage developers to wait before bulldozing historic buildings.

After the former Madden’s Restaurant on Daniel Webster Highway was razed in September 2007, town councilors asked the community development department to investigate ways to introduce alternative thinking to developers who plan demolition.

The proposal now calls for a review period to kick in if a building slated for razing is listed on the town’s historic properties map. The period includes a public hearing before the town Heritage Commission as well as discussions about alternatives.

In the end, the developer would still decide whether to move forward with demolition because the ordinance doesn’t have any legal repercussions.

In November, the Planning Board gave the idea a mixed review, voting 2-2-2 – which means it did not issue a recommendation to the Town Council.