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Frequently Asked Questions

PLEASE NOTE:

  • If any statement in the FAQ conflicts with our Ordinances, the Ordinances take precedence.

  • Any reference to fees, rates or peak periods can be found under our rates document.

  • Please contact the office at 802-464-7560 ext. 110 or email us at administration@nbfdwwt.com with any questions

 

OVERVIEW

What is the North Branch Fire District and who is part of it?

  • The North Branch Fire District #1 (“NBFD”) was created in 1972, so that its members could cooperatively build and maintain a single wastewater collection and treatment system.

  • NBFD is known as a “consolidated district,” and it has some powers that are like a town government (like eminent domain).

  • To see if your property is part of the district, please click HERE.

  • All full-time residents who live within the district are eligible to vote when a vote is held relating to NBFD business. Residents in the district who are not connected to the system (e.g., have septic system) are nevertheless eligible voters.

What do people vote for?

  • Membership of the Prudential Committee, the decision-making and oversight Board.

  • The NBFD budget as well as the annual budget.

  • Approval of any proposed Bonds.

  • Any specific issues that are brought forward from the floor during formal meetings under Vermont law

  • What does the NBFD charge for?

  • As a state Fire District which is also a sewer district, NBFD has the right to collect taxes from all properties in the district, including those who live in the district but are not connected to the NBFD system. These taxes can be used for bond repayment or plant expansion. The NBFD has no current plans to collect taxes in this manner.

  • NBFD charges per gallon usage fees. These fees are used for capital funding, bond repayment, maintenance, and operation of the plant 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.

  • NBFD no longer charges hookup fees based on the prior methodology for calculating “Sleeping Spaces” in residential dwellings. It was a labor-intensive process requiring inspections and surveys. The “Sleeping Spaces” procedure has been replaced with

  • Excessive Usage fee assessment. Prior “Sleeping Space” fees collected have been converted to Gallonage Allocations for each property. Additional details can be found in the Excessive Usage Fees section below.

Why and how NBFD charges for gallonage allocation

  • Under Vermont state law, NBFD may process a maximum flow per day.

  • NBFD is responsible for ensuring that it accounts for and manages the allocation of the capacity of our system to ensure that the capacity does not become overcommitted as NBFD minimizes the risk of too much effluent into our system

  • Gallonage Allocation Fee or Hookup Fee for a specific property. This is a one-time charge typically made at the time a property is purchased. Fees are calculated for residential properties based the number of bedrooms. For other types of property (e.g., commercial, hotels, etc.) an expected daily usage as defined by the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) is converted into an annual usage number, from which the fee is determined based at prevailing Gallonage Rates. This is accomplished by submitting a completed Application for Gallonage Contract with appropriate fees.

  • This fee is used for capital improvement, and NBFD protects its system by calculating an Uncommitted Reserve Capacity (URC) which is the remaining capacity which it can allocate to properties.

What else does NBFD charge for and how are those charges calculated?

  • Usage Fee. This is a per gallon charge for water that flows into a property which is used as a proxy for wastewater that flows into the system. Usage is calculated using a meter. Usage fees are variable and are determined and then billed retroactively based on total sewage processed during the billing period under the prior approved budget.

  • Excessive Usage Fees. NBFD has a fixed capacity that it can process daily and requires this disincentive for residents and visitors to avoid excessive output. It is a fee calculated based on overall capacity and the expected input to the system from each property.

  • Submetering. As NBFD measures water flowing into a property, not its effluent, a submeter (also known as a deduct or bypass meter) may be installed to measure water that does not flow into our system (for example, a certain faucet used only to water a garden). NBFD bills only for water flowing into the property less the sub-metered amount. The cost of a sub-meter is at the property owner’s expense and incurs a processing fee each bill.


How do we meter?

  • All users of our system must have meters that measure water usage and must have communication “heads” installed to wirelessly transmit that information to NBFD. The cost of meter installation is at the property owner’s expense.

  • NBFD periodically monitors all systems to ensure fully operating meters and will work with property owners to ensure they stay that way. Penalties may be assessed for non-compliance.

  • Water monitoring remains the responsibility of the property owners. However, if NBFD detects abnormally high usage, it will attempt to inform property owners so they may identify repair any potential leaks.


Communications

  • NBFD’s primary mode of communications, including the sending out of bills, will be via email. All property owners will be contacted, and owners will be allowed to opt-out of email billing. Those who do not provide us their email or choose to continue with bills via the mail will be subject to a processing fee.

 

Usage Billing

  • Bills are sent on May 1 and November 1.

  • Details on how usage bills are allocated to operations, capital and bond repayment can be found in the documentation provided at the Annual Meeting and can be found on this website.

  • Usage billing is subject to a minimum monthly charge.

  • With all metering operational, NBFD would not need to send estimated bills. If there are issues, however, estimated bills will be sent and will be based on prior usage if available.

  • NBFD may also have cases without an accurate history (for example, when meters were not installed or inoperable). In that case past bills can be considered for an abatement hearing only based on two years of actual usage. This is typically addressed by the Board of Abatement.

  • You may contact the NBFD office to get an explanation of how an estimate was determined.

  • Whether actual or estimated, bills must be paid on time per current Ordinance and refunds may only be issued at the semi-annual Board of Abatement hearings.

  • You must provide documentation of billed usage not flowing into our system with an explanation of the cause and details on the remediation

  • Abatement of estimated charges will only be reviewed with actual meter readings


Gallonage Allocation (Hookup Fee)

  • Gallonage Allocation is executed via the completion of a Gallonage Purchase Contract submitted with a processing fee.

  • Gallonage purchase requirements are tied to the size and type of the premises as detailed in the Contract

  • Gallonage must be purchased at the time of applications per current rates

  • NBFD must be notified in writing prior to the commencement of construction, then again in writing thirty days prior to connecting to our system. To ensure metering is operational, NBFD must be notified no later than thirty days after construction has been completed. Violations are subject to penalties.

 

Excessive Usage Fees

  • Each property that has a weekly flow during a peak period that is greater than an expected flow will be charged increased per gallon usage fee for usage (called Excessive Usage Charge – Peak Period).

  • Each property that exceeds its annual gallonage will be charged an increased per gallon usage fee for all usage beyond the annual allocation and may be required to sign a new contract to purchase additional gallonage.

  • Previously collected “Sleeping Space” fees have been converted into gallonage purchased for your property. This conversion is expected lessen the impact of Excessive Usage Fee.


Existing Contracts and/or Property Transfer

  • When a property is transferred, NBFD must be notified of the identity of the current ownership. A processing fee is charged.


Failure to Pay

  • Because NBFD operates as a Municipality, it may utilize the tax sale process to collect unpaid usage fees.

  • NBFD will generally attempt to call all property owners to minimize the number of tax sales and to establish payment plans. However, it is not required to call any owner.


Abatement Hearing

  • All users of the system are entitled to a formal hearing to dispute or discuss any irregularities in their bills.

  • As a policy, any wastewater that enters the sewer system cannot be abated as the NBFD #1 has processed that effluent. Running toilets should be repaired immediately to avoid paying for excessive sewer charges.

  • Abatement Hearings are held in June and December. You may contact the office to be put on the agenda.