Despite significant opposition from residents, town officials Tuesday approved a $95 increase to the town's .
The 34 percent hike brings a Stratford homeowner's annual sewer bill from $280 to $375.
The increase is needed to help pay for a $4.2 million deficit in the Water Pollution Control Authority Fund, according to , the town's chief administrative officer.
Nocera told the Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA) -- which consists of all Town Council members -- that the hike would cut the deficit in half and lowering the proposed increase would further deplete town savings.
The deficit is there in large part to an already completed $60 million upgrade to Stratford's sewer treatment plant.
Nocera added that not approving the $95 increase could lead to a poor credit rating for the town.
The WPCA approved the hike by a 7-to-3 vote. Council members John Dempsey (R-5), Matt Catalano (R-3) and Stephanie Philips (D-2) voted against the increase.
'Struggling to put food on the table'
During the public hearing prior to the vote, ten residents denounced the proposed increase. Several said it's unfair to people -- especially senior citizens -- who live on fixed incomes.
"I think it's absolutely outrageous," said Eleanor Burke. "The true fact is people only have a certain about of money to spend."
Get Stratford news delivered daily to your inbox: sign up for Stratford Patch's free newsletter.
One of those fighting to make ends meet is Eleanor Street resident Betty Mathis. "I'm a senior citizen," she said. "I'm struggling to put food on the table."
Mathis said she didn't think it "right" to approve a and then and the residential sewer rate by $95.
Bertha Pesano said the $95 increase is too much for seniors. Annette Christian said the $95 could go toward groceries or another bill.
Diane Buda said the town's high taxes and fees are forcing people out of Stratford.
'We have to swallow this pill'
Nocera said over the last five years there has only been one $30 increase to the residential sewer fee for Stratford homeowners.
He said the average rate for other towns and cities in the county, excluding Stratford, is $460. The average annual sewer fee for adjacent towns in 2011 was $392, Nocera added.
"We have to swallow this pill, take our medicine," he said.