WHY GRAFTON RAISED ITS RATES

WHY GRAFTON RAISED ITS RATES

The story told by Theodore F. Smith, superintendent of the Grafton, Mass., water works system, will find a responsive endorsement by many managers of plants in all parts of the country, owing to similar conditions. The proposition -of the water company is to raise rates thirty per cent beginning October 1. In explanation of this increase, Mr. Smith says it was necessary and the company had but two choices, either to get more money for the water to make up the deficit or let the company dissolve. The latter choice would be a bad one for the town, as its hydrant service furnishes the town with fire protection. He further said that the company cannot exist on the present income, as it is not sufficient to pay the running expenses and maintenance. No dividend ever was paid on the stock and for a year and a half no interest has been paid on its first. Service has been maintained only by the owners of the company paying the money out of their own pockets to make up the deficit. This is abnormal and cannot continue, the public cannot be served unless it pays at least the cost of the service. In February, 1918, the owners sent $500 and in July $1,000 to aid an exhausted treasury and enable bills to be paid. The most serious item has been coal. For a year, beginning June 1, 1915, coal cost $1,500, while for a year beginning June 1, 1917, it cost $3,800. Everything the company purchased went in the same way, but, fortunately, not to the same degree. Last winter, as all of us are aware, was tragic in its severity. Great damage was done. The company expended $1,100 in labor and more than $700 in pipe and material used in restoring conditions to normal. There was paid out during April, May and June $3,708, and there remained bills unpaid to the amount of $950. To meet this deficiency the hydrant rentals were available and the owners sent on $1,000, which paid all the bills and left a little in the treasury. The company asks the takers of water to submit to a 30 per cent increase in rates, that is to say, that a person who has paid $5 each six months will pay $6.50, and a person who has paid $15 will pay $19.50. A cheerful cooperation of the community with the company is the only course which seems feasible. The company has done the best it could to serve the public under very discouraging conditions and it now needs and asks for the aid of consumers. [The proposition of Mr. Smith is a very reasonable one under the circumstances, and, as the people of Grafton are aware that nearly all commodities they use have increased one hundred per cent in the past two years, it cannot be expected water could be furnished without making a moderate increase in the rate to pay the extra cost of operating the plant.—Ed.]

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