Getting Answers: increases in Agawam water bills
AGAWAM, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Many Agawam residents in for a big shock when they open their water bills and seeing a huge increase. We heard from several frustrated residents and took their concerns right to Mayor William Sapelli’s office to figure out why the massive price increase and why now.
“Shock and disgust,” said Chris Greany of Agawam.
That was Greany’s reaction when he opened his water bill earlier this week and saw it more than doubled.
“You’re talking, you know, $2,000, $2,500 a year for some of these people. That’s ridiculous,” Greany added.
We took a look for ourselves. A $394 bill for six months of service is now up to $406 for only three months of service from July to October.
The changes come after an Agawam city council vote in June to increased water rates by 55 percent, sewer rates by 25 percent, and changed billing cycles from bi-annually to quarterly.
“In short of raising those fees, what do we do? Shut the water off? Not fix breaks? We need that money to address those issues,” Sapelli said.
We brought Greany’s concerns to Sapelli to get answers. He told Western Mass News that the rate increases will go directly into an account that covers all water and sewer-related expenses, including the cost of replacing old pipes. Sapelli explained that this usage rate is adjusted every five years with the last increase coming in 2014 at 40 percent. He even added that the funds from that price increase lasted long enough to prevent an increase for seven years, rather than five.
However, not everyone on the city council voted yes on the proposal, including Cecilia Calabrese, who is currently a candidate for state senate.
“At that time, gas prices were over $5 a gallon and we were talking about going into a recession, inflation was starting to climb,” Calabrese explained.
However, Sapelli countered that the increase still positions Agawam below other communities including West Springfield, Longmeadow, and Springfield.
With aging infrastructure and the rising cost of materials and labor, Sapelli noted, “Obviously with age, every year, you’re going to get more and more breaks and they’re going to need more and more attention. As I said earlier, this is not an option.”
There is a 30-day grace period to pay these bills. If you have any questions, you are asked to refer them to the Agawam Water and Sewer Department at (413) 821-0600 or via email.
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