Wednesday, February 6


          As you know, if you follow my updates, the meeting was held last night. This meeting was initiated because the Water commissioners wanted to ask the Selectboard to have the towns taxpayers take over the debt service for the water company. When one commissioner told me this it prompted me to start an email campaign to inform the towns’ people of this developing situation. As promised here is my report of the facts surrounding this issue.

          This is an informal report based on the facts that I’ve uncovered during my own investigation of the Egremont Water Company. When I began this investigation I thought the water company was grossly mismanaged by those in charge, i.e. the commissioners and employees of the water dept. This impression stemmed from rumors that flooded the town to explain the constant subsidies that had to be given to the water company to cover revenue shortfalls.  The more facts I uncovered, the more I realized that the commissioners and water company employees were doing their job quite well. While they were not perfect they have done their best to make the water company operate as economically as it can. I commend them for taking a pig in a poke and turning it into an efficient water company that provides clean healthy water to the users.

          I was also lead to believe that the users were being charged far less than it cost to bring the water to the house and that the water commissioners refused to increase the fees. This impression was also based on rumors circulating to explain the reason for the shortfalls and subsidies. The fact is that the fees being assessed to the users have been increased steadily and should be more than sufficient to cover the costs of getting the water to the user. In a worst case scenario, if the numbers are correct, the water company might need only a small subsidy. Rather than opine about the things that are wrong with the water company I’ll just lay out the figures. To quote an old expression, “figures don’t lie and liars don’t figure”, not that I am calling anyone a liar. Now let’s get into the numbers.

Let me preface this by saying these are not my figures. These figures are based on public records and figures that were quoted at the Selectboard meeting on Feb. 4th 2013. According to Jack Muskrat there are 214 meters being read each month and there are 179 accounts. The reason for the difference is that some accounts have multiple meters. If an account has more than one meter the account holder is assessed only one debt service fee and pays for the water that passes through all meters. Jack claims that there are only a few of these accounts and that this has little effect on revenues. The minimum cost for the individual account is $76.82. This allows for 1000 gallons per month or less and the price includes a debt service fee of $32.22. The water price goes up in 1000 gallon increments and the various amounts are outlined in the attached fee schedule.

Now let’s do some math. There are 179 accounts and each of these accounts are assessed a debt service fee of $32.22. That means that the monthly collections for debt service should be 5767.38. Multiply this by 12 months and we should collect $69,208.56 for debt service alone. The minimum rate assessed for water is $44.60. Multiply this by 214 water meters and we should have $9,544.40 per month in water revenues. This means that the water company should collect at a minimum of $114,532.80 for water revenues. Therefore, at the very least, the amount of revenue reported in the annual report should be $183,471.36.

Let’s go to the annual report. In 2012 the actual revenue reported was $136,618. This means that there was $47,123 unaccounted for. In 2011 the actual water revenue reported was $120,086. This leaves $63,385 unaccounted for. This is if all water users were charged only the minimum fee and debt service. Let’s say for the sake of argument that all users are billed at the minimum. This way the big users who are billed for over 30,000 gallons per month will balance out any that might not pay for any reason.

The following chart shows the previous four years numbers. The numbers in the chart are high because it is based on 217 accounts. I was told that we had this many accounts before I prepared this document for the meeting. As you can see by the above numbers, which were prepared after the information was clarified by Jack Muskrat, there is still a tremendous shortfall.  A copy of the following document was given to the Selectboard members at this meeting and a full copy is as follows.



 of Users


These figures are based on the actual figures found in the annual reports for the years listed. The following is a clarification of the columns above. NOTE: The above chart may not show on your computer as each operating system id different. If you want a full copy of the report I will email a copy to you. Email me at

·        Revenue Budgeted is the projected revenue for the year listed.

·        Actual Revenue is total revenue collected in that year.

·        Operating Budget is expected cost to run the water company for the year listed.

·        Operating Expense is the actual cost to run the water company in the corresponding year.

·        Fees/1000g is the monthly user fee billed to the user and includes both the debt service, which is a constant $32.22 based on the outstanding loans taken on by the water company and the operating expenses which vary year to year depending fluctuating costs and needs.

·        Users are the number of accounts billed each month.

·        Billing is the amount billed based on the fee schedule multiplied by the number of users. This figure does not include any users who may have used more than the 1000g minimum or any added fees and penalties.


1.     Why doesn’t the budgeted revenue equal the projected billing which is based on the fee schedule multiplied by number of users?

2.     Why isn’t the operating budget based on the actual expenses from the previous year, or an average of the accumulated expenses of several preceding years?

3.     Why is the actual revenue not only so far from the budgeted revenue, but even further from the billing amount based on the fee schedule?



Fortunately most people who were present at the SB meeting caught the fact that my point was to make them and the town aware that there are big gaps in the revenue numbers. When you see a 60 thousand dollar gap in how much was supposed to be billed and what was actually collected there is something drastically wrong. I wouldn’t be surprised if many in town demanded an investigation. At the very least there is gross mismanagement of funds. Now I want to believe the best about our town employees and I wouldn’t accuse anyone of anything, but numbers this far off demand answers. We should not stop asking until these questions are answered.



  1. Believe the best? Why hasn't anyone seen this before? What are the selectmen doing about this, isn't it there job to check out the numbers? What about the finance committee? Who is watching the money?

  2. You can tell us until the cows come home, Kevin, that the WC commissioners are doing a good job. But until the revenue actually collected is at least equal to the actual expenses, this is completely wrong. And that is what you, and others should be saying. As the audit report points out right at the beginning, the charge to the WC is to have the users pay all the expenses of providing them with water. They have a consistent record of NOT doing this. How you can say something to the contrary boggles the mind. If you really want to "help" the Town and the non-users, you should be out yelling like mad that the WC commissioners have NOT done their job and that it's the responsibility of the SB to see that this is dramatically changed.

    Come on, Kevin, go out their and tell the truth and press for our officials to finally do their jobs.

    1. First,v know that this was written February 6th of last year. This was the beginning of the Finance committee' investigation and if you follow the articles in the order they were posted you would see that the meeting on Feb, 4, 2013 was when the hornets nest was kicked.

  3. Believe the best but know it is wrong. We pay the highest in the state for water. I am on the line and it is just me and I work two jobs and I pay more then the 76. I know that I do not use that much water. There is something wrong. I do not believe that the company is run well.