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GROTON — Water Commission Chairman Chris Kelly announced Tuesday that William Miller has stepped down from his position on the commission.

Kelly said Miller submitted a letter to the town clerk stating that his resignation would be effective Dec. 5.

Miller’s resignation came as a surprise as he had only completed seven months out of a three-year term on the commission that he won in elections last spring.

At the time, Miller had run a write-in campaign fueled by the impending implementation of a new fee structure for water users. He felt came the fee too suddenly and without the proper consideration of other alternatives for balancing the Water Department books.

“I want to run for Water Commissioner because I think I can help the Water Department,” Miller had said. “One of the reasons I’m running is to look at the big picture.”

Miller was also interested in public disclosure of any government activity, including commission meetings.

“I am quite concerned about dropping TV coverage of our meetings,” Miller said.

In fact, Miller is not even a stranger to the Water Commission having once been a member. A resident of town since 1959, Miller has run for, and won, a number of other public offices in the past including the Finance Committee and Personnel Board.

When Miller ran for his current seat on the Water Commission during the town election on May 17, he won election against fellow write-in candidate Lawrence Guilmartin by a vote of 228 to 108.

In addition to price increases, Miller was interested in water supplies and wary of suggestions about joining other local communities in a consortium that would require members to come to each other’s aid in emergencies.

Unfortunately, Miller’s shortened stay on the Water Commission may have prevented him from pursuing those concerns.

In addition to Kelly, the one other remaining member of the commission is Michael Brady.

Also Tuesday, commissioners opened discussion of the Water Department budget for fiscal year 2007, and although members declined to estimate what their final request would be, they did acknowledge that it was likely to include a modest increase to cover the rise in price for such fixed costs as utilities and rising postage rates.

The Water Department operating budget for FY06 is $1.23 million.

An exception to that rule could be a request for the creation of a new position to be added to the department’s current roster of four employees.

The new position would be that of a technician to help the two currently employed by the department whose workload is expected to increase when a new iron and manganese treatment plant opens in the fall at the Baddacook well site.

“We can’t get away from it,” said water Superintendent Thomas Orcutt. “Everybody’s pretty taxed.”

Orcutt said although his preference would be that the new position be a full-time one, at least 20 hours per week was the absolute bottom line.

The commission will review the budget at its Dec. 27 meeting one last time before submitting it before submitting it by the Finance Committee’s Jan. 3 deadline.