Easthampton board raises water, sewer bills an average 8%

  • Easthampton Municipal Building, 50 Payson Avenue GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 6/28/2020 5:57:16 PM

EASTHAMPTON — The Board of Public Works has voted to raise the water and sewer bill for the average Easthampton user by about 8% in the next fiscal year. 

With the average water and sewer user in Easthampton using 1,800 cubic feet per year, according to Tighe & Bond, which is consulting for the city, the average bill would increase by $48.20 in the coming fiscal year, or 7.9 percent.

The board voted to increase the quarterly base fee for sewer service to $9.75, a $1.25 increase, and also raised the usage fee per hundred cubic feet by 50 cents to $5.10.

An increase in the usage fee for water service of 10 cents per hundred cubic feet to to $3.25 was already set to go into effect for the coming fiscal year, the result of a May 2018 BPW vote.

The increase approved by the BPW Thursday was the largest among four options considered at their meeting.

One would have increased the sewer usage fee by 10 cents per hundred cubic feet, as was previously scheduled as a result of the 2018 vote, and the other two would have increased sewer fees and base rates so that average bills would have risen 6.1% or 7%. All of the proposals would have increased water usage fees by 10 cents per hundred cubic feet.

The plan backed by the BPW was endorsed by Mayor Nicole LaChapelle and Greg Nuttelman, the interim department of public works director. It nearly eliminates any projected shortfall in net revenue from the water and sewer enterprise funds for the coming fiscal year. Increasing usage fees for water and sewer by 10 cents each would have resulted in a projected shortfall of approximately $239,000.

Still, BPW chairman Thomas Malsbury characterized the increase as a “stopgap” at the Thursday meeting, while noting that a long-term solution to the stormwater issue has been put off for a year.

When the Board of Public Works was considering increases over several fiscal years to fund upgrades to the city’s water, sewer and stormwater systems earlier in the year to the tune of $2.7 million, double-digit percentage increases for ratepayers were being looked at for fiscal 2021. One of the proposals would have created a separate enterprise fund for stormwater as part of this process.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.

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