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Amherst Town Council OKs rise in water, sewer rates 

  • Amherst Town Hall GAZETTE FILE PHOTO



Staff Writer
Monday, June 07, 2021

AMHERST — Homeowners connected to the town’s water and sewer systems will see their combined annual bills for the service increase beginning July 1.

The Town Council in late May unanimously approved a proposal from Town Manager Paul Bockelman to raise the rates per 100 cubic feet of water from $4.20 to $4.60, a 9.5% jump, and increase the rate per 100 cubic feet of sewer from $4.60 to $4.90, a 6.5% rise.

Based on estimates presented by the Finance Committee and using figures from the Department of Public Works, the median household will pay $40 more for the services next year, while the average household will pay $65 more.

District 3 Councilor Dorothy Pam said the adjustments show good government in action and that rates will remain lower than some surrounding communities.

“This increase in the water rate reflects long-term planning and making sure Amherst always has an adequate water supply,” Pam said.

The median water bill for residential customers will go from $239 to $262 a year and the median sewer bill will go from $262 to $279, according to a memo from the Finance Committee using information from Assistant Department of Public Works Superintendent Amy Rusiecki.

Finance Committee Chairman Andy Steinberg said the median bill provides a good sense of how the adjustments will affect a typical family.

For the average tax bill, which is weighted toward heavier uses, the water bill will go from $386 to $423 per year and the sewer bill will go from $423 to $451 per year.

The new rates prepare the town for replacing the Centennial Water Treatment Plant in Pelham. The council last year approved borrowing $11 million for the project that will be repaid from the water enterprise fund.

At-Large Councilor Mandi Jo Hanneke said she would like to see councilors work with the DPW to evaluate possible changes to the rate structure, an idea that has been considered in the past.

Council President Lynn Griesemer said that work was delayed due to the skewed water and sewer usage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but that it is likely to happen prior to the next adjustment in rates.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.