Caribou Utilities District proposing 6 percent increase in water rates

CARIBOU, Maine – The Caribou Utilities District is attributing inflation-based increases in fuel and operation costs as the reasons behind its latest water rate increase.

After increasing water rates by 4 percent in 2021, the CUD is now proposing increases of 6 percent for residential, commercial, industrial and other water rates for the upcoming year.

That would mean total increases of $33,250 in residential water rates, a $7,779 increase for commercial rates and a $4,967 increase for industrial customers. Government customers, including the city of Caribou, would see a $2,242 increase.

CUD General Manager Hugh Kirkpatrick said that the proposed rate increase is the district’s attempt to get ahead of likely future increases in gas, fuel oil and other expenses due to record-high inflation.

“We would rather try to stay ahead [of inflation] and increase rates a little at a time instead of waiting and increasing rates by 30 or 40 percent,” Kirkpatrick said.

For instance, the CUD paid $242 per gallon for diesel fuel at this time last year compared to $451 per gallon currently. Fuel oil costs have increased from $221 per gallon to $431 per gallon while regular gas costs have gone from $240 per gallon to $410 per gallon.

The CUD will hold a public hearing Thursday, Aug. 25, at 7:30 a.m. at the Caribou Wellness and Recreation Center, located at 55 Bennett Drive. The hearing will be open to anyone wishing to voice opinions on the rate increases or ask questions of the CUD board of trustees.

The trustees’ monthly meeting will follow the public hearing and they will likely vote on the rate increases at that time, Kirkpatrick noted.

If approved, the new water rates will go into effect on Nov. 1, 2022.

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