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May 01, 2008



What this translates to, in terms of the Methodist Church on College Ave., is a set $5000/yr. annual "estimated" payment. Whether that will increase with inflation or whatever remains to be seen. I'm not sure what St. Catherines and and others are going to be paying. I just happened to catch that figure from one of the Methodist Church elders (who pays the bills--the cost of heating oil this season has so far run the church in excess of $25K) the other day.

In the case of the Methodist Church, one of their usege/cost centers is the 16 or so homeless people who I am told shower there daily.

I very much doubt that this will result in any noticeable cost savings to the average homeowner on their W&S bills. It MAY result in less of a rate increase.

That said, churches and other non-profits provide services to the ENTIRE community. The recent fire at Harvard Place resulted in fundraising for those affected by the Somerville Community Baptist Church. Things like this are the mission of such institutions. Therefore, speaking for myself, I have always treated the seeming largesse of the City in the form of property tax and water & sewer bill exclusion as an acceptable compromise. These are institutions which, by virtue of their existence, benefit the ENTIRE community.

I'm sure the costs reflect a pass-through of MWRA costs which have risen due to large-scale capital projects rather than the City's "cracking down" on freeloading non-profits. Still, for hard-pressed organizations that exist to serve us all, it is a bitter pill. I hope the community can come together on this.



Its true that many (though not all) non profits do good work, but I don't think the city and its citizens should be subsidizing them in this way. They already receive other city services yet pay no property taxes. And frankly many non profits have an agenda I don't agree with. I'd rather support the ones I do that be forced to pay for the ones I don't.

Finally, conservation can only come if people pay for the services they use. Only when people pay, on a variable cost basis that increases with use, will people cut back on consumption.


I guess that church should start charging an admitting fee for those to come to worship on their property as well then. I believe that everyone should be equal but I think those that give to society should be exempt.


The water bill situation has been a disaster in Somerville for some time. The outrageous bills, the lack of an appeals process (they tell you up front you have NO SHOT at winning if you appeal), etc. Why no state or federal investigation is under way is beyond comprehension. The whole management of the DPW should be tossed in jail.

I don't think churches should have to pay (they don't receive federal/state money via grants like other non-profits), but the other non-profits can/should pony up some cash.


must need cash to pay some more OT at the DPW yard. Hey Mole, any more new hires ?


I can't believe I'm agreeing with an Imux post. Well said.

I'd argue for an exemption/discount for entities who are housing people (the church providing shelter for the homeless, Little Sisters of the Poor, etc.)


Offhand, does anyone know if MWRA comes under the aegis of the Pacheco Bill? I thought they were sunsetted years back, but don't know for sure.



"I guess that church should start charging an admitting fee for those to come to worship on their property as well then."

They sure should. I'm sure so many people would love to pay a fee to genuflect in front of a stinky wooden crucifix or to listen to the ramblings of an old clown in a costume.


I learned about this last Saturday. We were down sweeping the sand up in the parking lot of the SCBC on Morrison Ave. and one of the board members of the church--who also happens to be a lifelong neighbor and friend--was telling me about it. I was, to say the least, dismayed. Later on, the person from the Methodist Church stopped by and told us of the details that I related previously regarding the costs, etc. I do not know what the cost to SCBC will end up being, but I agree with Imux that certain exemptions need to be made for entities such as churches, which receive no direct governmental assistance, yet provide public benefits without discrimination.

In my opinion, exceptions or amendments to this "law" really need to be considered. As it is now, it is counterproductive. If Congress can give MLB an exclusive anti-trust exemption or Disney a copyright in perpetuity, certainly the General Court can allow churches free water and sewer.



I agree with "nobody". If you agree with a non-profit's cause, then donate money to them. But the city shouldn't be subsidizing their cost of operation. I don't want to pay for organizations I don't agree with.

I never understood why churches were subsidized. What happened to separation of church and state?


Does this mean Tufts will finally start paying their water bill? I'm sure it's tens of thousands, if not more, than any non profit in the city.


Does this mean Tufts will finally start paying their water bill? I'm sure it's tens of thousands, if not more, than any non profit in the city.


Geraldine, don't dare question the institution of higher learning !! Tufts is a drain on all city services, and until a few years ago they gave the city some token hush money. I'll give Joeycakes some credit he shook them down for more. That will continue until his kids are college age !! LOL

it *is* funny

If you think this is going to result in lower water bills for us average citizens, I've got a little land I'd like to show you in Florida....

I think there should be a stem to stern audit on the water bill situation. Something's fishy, and it's not just Somerville water.

** that last line was a joke, we have much better tasting water than neighboring Cambridge for example.

Ron Newman

Somerville's water is from MWRA (Quabbin and Wachusett reservoirs). Cambridge's is from their own reservoir system in Waltham and Lincoln.

City Hall Nose

Certain friends of Boss Hog get special treatment. They think they are non-profit too. Like a certain individual from the SHA who sold his property a few years ago and had a huge water bill that was forgiven by the Hog. Hog made C.A, Water Superintendent, wipe out the bill before the sale went through.

All one has to do is to look at property on Highland Ave, Cross Street and one in Ward 6 owned by one of the SHA project managers to see how lenient Boss Hog was to HIM.



In addition to Lincoln and Stony Brook Reservoirs, Cambridge also uses Fresh Pond. I was told a few months back that they were using it quite a bit actually since the levels of Rte. 128 reservoirs were running low.

There is a back-up connection with MWRA which opens automatically on low-pressure if there is a problem with the Cambridge supply. Whenever this happens, the City of Cambridge has to buy their water from MWRA. In 1998, Cambridge Water Dept. embarked upon the reconstruction of the Fresh Pond Water Treatment Plant. This necessitated the use of MWRA (formerly MDC) water for a period of about 3 years while the plant was built and commissioned. During that time the daily bill from MWRA to Cambridge was, as I am told, about $20,000. I was further told that Cambridge was slow in paying it. I have only to assume that there were no late fees or interest charges associated with this (as would be the case with, say, a Somerville homeowner who fell into arrears and was charged the standard 14% per annum rate by the City).

Our water bill at work runs in the neighborhood of $1 million/year. I believe we're the largest used in the City; certainly the largest industrial user.

The potability of the Cambridge water is fine, although the quality--from an industrial use standpoint--is nowhere near as good as Quabbin. And, yes, the taste of the Cambridge water isn't nearly as good.

Quabbin water has lower alkalinity, but the trip through Wachussett (a more mature reservoir) modifies that somewhat. Actually, for its size, the Quabbin water is amazingly pure--and its watershed extremely well protected. There was always jubilation at work whenever we switched over to Quabbin.

By the way, five days ago marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the towns in the Swift River Valley--Dana, Enfield, Greenwich and Prescott--that lie beneath Quabbin.


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