Updated 4:30 p.m.
NORTHBOROUGH, Mass. — Marlborough officials say Northborough owes the city a total of $189,000 in payments for sewage treatment for fiscal year 2012 and part of fiscal year 2011.
Three Northborough properties are connected to Marlborough's sewer system: Algonquin Regional High School, transportation company A. Duie Pyle and a building at 360 Cedar Hill St. The sewage is treated at the Westerly Wastewater Treatment Plant in Marlborough, Marlborough Commissioner of Public Works Ronald LaFreniere said.
"The agreements for those individual connections do allow the city to collect user fees," LaFreniere said Wednesday.
In a Nov. 27 story in the MetroWest Daily News, Marlborough Mayor Arthur Vigeant was quoted as telling the City Council on Monday that Northborough town officials had not been responsive to requests for payment. City Councilor Joseph Delano signaled his willingness to sponsor a resolution to shut off service to Northborough. The MetroWest Daily News reported that Vigeant did not believe the situation would come to that.
Growth in both municipalities requires more sewage capacity, which in turn requires a permit modification from the Environmental Protection Agency, LaFreniere said. The EPA rescinded its permit in 2010, LaFreniere added, and has yet to issue a new one.
Without a new EPA permit, he said, the city may not have enough capacity to accommodate Northborough's growth. Of the 800,000 gallons per day allocated to the town, LaFreniere said Northborough's usage had increased recently from 450,000 gallons per day to nearly 550,000 gallons.
Marlborough has already entered into a $30 million contract to expand the Westerly plant and expects Northborough to pay 30 percent of the construction costs, LaFreniere said.
Calling Northborough a "great partner," LaFreniere said, "The city continues to treat Northborough's flow, and will continue to treat it," assuming the charges are resolved.
Northborough Public Works Director Dan Nason could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
In an email to selectmen, Northborough Town Administrator John Coderre criticized an "unprofessional" letter he had received from Vigeant, in which the mayor warned that he might kick Northborough out of the sewage plant. Insisting that Vigeant had no such authority, Coderre called for both communities to work together with the EPA to get a new permit in place.
UPDATE: In a Nov. 29 letter to Mayor Vigeant, Coderre wrote that an invoice for operating costs in fiscal year 2012 had been received in November and is due on Dec. 14. The charges total $189,288.
"We would not want any member of the City Council or the public to mistakenly believe that the Town's share of the annual operating charges are actually past due," Coderre wrote.
Coderre added that the town intends to pay $166,234 by the upcoming due date. The disagreement, he wrote, is over the $23,054 in user fees that the town disputes.
Coderre wrote that the town would be willing to meet with Marlborough officials at any time to settle the issue.
The full text of the letter can be found by clicking on the link below.