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City Council May Charge Sewer Fee

By Cheryl R. Devall

Harvard will pay approximately $174,000 per year for use of the Cambridge sewer system if the Cambridge city council votes next week to change the method of raising $15.2 million in funds for the renovation of the sewer system.

Presently, Harvard and other non-profit organizations do not pay for the use of the sewer because the system is paid for through taxes. Under the proposed change, all users of the sewer system will pay for its use in proportion to the amount of water they use.

User Charge

"What we are putting into effect is a user charge," James L. Sullivan, Cambridge city manager, said yesterday. "Under a tax system, the universities don't pay for the sewer because they're not taxpayers. But under a sewer charge, the universities pay in proportion to the water they use," Sullivan added.

"As the Mayor would say, 'We're going to make them (the universities) kick in,"' he said.

In 1973, the federal government ordered Cambridge to rebuild its sewer system, which was deemed inadequate in several places. The Cambridge city council passed a $15.2 million bond issue to fund the project that year.

In 1974, the federal government volunteered $11 million in funds toward the total cost of the sewer renovation if Cambridge would impose a sewer charge on all users of the system to raise the remaining $4 million, Sullivan said.

The sewer renovation will affect all areas of the city, Conrad C. Fagone, commissioner of public works, said yesterday.

Lots Spent Already

Approximately $3 to $4 million have been spent on the project to date, he said.

"Before this, 50 per cent of the people were paying for 100 per cent of the services through taxes," Fagone said yesterday. "The federal government said that 100 per cent of the people must pay for 100 per cent of the services," he added.

"Nobody's trying to pick on anybody else. We're just trying to comply with the federal regulation that says everybody must pay their fair share," Fagone said.

The sewer charge proposal has gone through its second reading in the city council and will be considered in the council meeting next week, Richard McKinnon, administrative assistant to the city council, said yesterday.

While some Harvard financial officers are aware of the sewer charge proposal, they do not know exactly how much the University will be affected financially, Donald C. Moulton, assistant vice president for community affairs, said yesterday. The proposal "will be directly related to our paying a tax we aren't paying now for sewer use," he said

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