• Submitted by:

    Select Board

  • Title:

    Legislation authorizing the Select Board to offer a senior discount program for water and sewer rates

  • Summary:

    This article would petition the Massachusetts Legislature to allow Brookline to offer discounted water and sewer rates for seniors and individuals with low incomes.

    When the revised water/sewer rate structure for FY2020 was reviewed with the Select Board, the potential of expanding the availability of the discount offered to senior water uses was explored. It was explained at that time that the Town would need special legislation passed at the state level in order provide the discount then recommended by the Water and Sewer Director.

    Accordingly, a warrant article seeking to authorize such a home rule petition was put on the November 2019 Town Meeting warrant and passed via voice vote. For unknown reasons, the Legislature never received the petition and did not act on it. The time for it to do so has now expired, and so Town Meeting now must pass a new warrant article if it wishes to authorize the program.

    This version of the petition is almost identical to the version that passed Town Meeting in 2019, except to the extent that it further authorizes the creation of separate rates for income-eligible residents as well as seniors. The program through which such a rate system would be administered does not yet exist. It will be developed by the Water and Sewer Division in consultation with a citizens’ working group. The Select Board would ultimately have the authority to determine the specific discount(s) offered, which would be voted during the annual rate setting process.

    Since passage of special acts offered via home rule petitions is typically a process that takes longer than a year, it is important to send this to the Legislature now so that the program that will be developed can begin as soon as possible after approval by the Select Board.