Hingham votes to buy private water company
Hingham’s Town Meeting voted decisively — 1,482 to 382 — to buy the private water company that serves Hingham, Hull, and a portion of Cohasset for $108 million.
Aquarion Water Co. had fought what it described as a hostile takeover, but an 1879 state law allowed the town to buy the water system if two-thirds of Town Meeting approved.
The April 22 Town Meeting also agreed — by voice votes — to make the selectmen the system’s water commissioners’ to establish an enterprise fund to keep water funds separate from the general fund’ and to borrow $112 million to cover the purchase and transition costs.
Supporters of the acquisition — including the town’s selectmen — argued that the town could operate the water company less expensively than a private profit-driven company and should exercise more control over water policy.
Opponents had argued that the purchase overburdened the town with debt and that important details — such as who would actually run the water system and at what price — were still up in the air.
The town clerk’s office said that the 1,988 in attendance at the Town Meeting was large but not a record. For example, almost 2,800 people went to the 1997 Town Meeting when school construction projects were on the agenda.