By Mary Macedo
Neighb News Correspondent
At its meeting on Monday, 9/30 the Fairhaven Board of Public Works discussed water and sewer abatements again, as well as 2020 contractor fees, and the new Livesey Park parking lot.
The board first met with Jean Canastra who attended the last BPW meeting to discuss a water and sewer abatement.
At the last meeting Ms. Canastra explained to the board that she had a water and sewer bill that was over $2000 when her normal bill is usually around $200. She also stated that she did have her toilet running for a few weeks without her knowledge, but she doubts that is the only reason her bill was so high At the previous meeting BPW Chairperson Brian Wotton also suggested that Ms. Canastra have a plumber go by and check all water in the house and report the findings to the board.
Ms. Canastra attended the 9/30 meeting with the plumber’s findings showing that that stated there were no leaks in her house.
Mr. Wotton explained that if there was no leak in the house other than the toilet running then there must have been water running/leaking somewhere outside the house.
BPW Superintendent Vincent Furtado said that the board does not usually allow abatements when a high bill was due to a toilet running. He said the bill is very high for just a toilet running, though, and there could have been something running or leaking outside too. He said in similaar situations the board denied abatements.
Board member Frank Coelho said that after this one, with the new abatement policy, all abatements need to be handled the same to be fair to everyone.
Board member Robert “Hoppy’ Hobson said that Ms. Canastra admitted she had an issue with her toilet.
“I am done with this abatement stuff,” Mr. Hobson said. “This is the last time we are doing this.”
Mr. Furtado explained that the policy states that the board will not abate water, but can abate sewer if the leak is outside or from a pipe in a basement.
Mr. Hobson said the bill was for $2000 and the plumber said there were no leaks so where did the leak come from?
“We need to be fair to everyone,” Mr. Hobson said.
BPW Administrative Assistant Rebecca Vento explained the board has never abated when the resident admitted to having some sort of leak. She said a few years ago an elderly woman came in with the same situation with a high bill and toilet leak and she was not granted the abatement.
Ms. Vento said that she does not think they should abate the whole sewer amount because Ms. Canastra admitted she had a toilet issue.
Mr. Coelho made a motion to abate the difference between her usual sewer bill and the bill that was high in the amount of a little over $900.
The motion passed with a three to one vote. Mr. Hobson stated that this would be the last time he would be doing this.
In another matter the board discussed 2020 contractor fees. Mr. Furtado explained that he did some research on what neighboring communities charge for their yearly application and driveway permits.
He said the town of Fairhaven charges their contractors much less than Dartmouth and New Bedford. For example, for driveway permits Fairhaven charges contractors $10, whereas New Bedford charges $30 and Dartmouth charges $50. For the yearly contractor application Fairhaven charges $25; New Bedford charges $100 and Dartmouth charges $200.
Mr. Furtado recommended increasing both fees and suggested increasing driveway permits to $25 and the contractor application to $100. Mr. Furtado said that he just wanted to bring the topic up for discussion, but would like to get more quotes from other towns before the board decides how much to increase the fees.
Mr. Wotton said, being a contractor in town, he would like to abstain from voting on the topic. Mr. Wotton explained that he would like to inform the board that most contractors tie in the driveway permit fees into the bill of the resident they are working for, therefore those fees affect the resident more than the contractor.
Mr. Wotton said to make the contractors pay more the board should increase the contractor application fees more. He said that he believes both fees should be increased and that he will pay anything to be a contractor in town.
Mr. Furtado will check other towns and report back at the next meeting.
In another matter the board discussed the new Livesey Park parking lot. Mr. Furtado said the police would like to put up something such as a chain to block the parking lot entrance after the park is closed. Mr. Furtado said the BPW will vote to put the chain there, but the police will be responsible for opening at dawn and closing it at dusk. The board approved it unanimously.
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