Councillors Say It’s Time to Put the Brakes on Water, Sewer Increases

Several City Councillors are lining up in opposition to water and sewer rate hikes proposed by the Department of Public Works, urging residents to attend a public hearing on the new rates in July.

In a letter to the Council, City Manager Thomas Ambrosino stated there will be rate increases of just under 3 percent for water and sewer customers who use less than 2,500 cubic feet of water. Under the City’s tiered approach to water and sewer rates, customers who use over that amount will see a 5 percent increase.

“With this increase, the average water and sewer bill in Chelsea (assuming annual usage of 120 hundred cubic feet) will be $1,828.80,” Ambrosino stated.

The rates will cover approved expenditures of $8,709,470 for water and $13,326,503 for sewer for Fiscal Year 2020, according to the City Manager.

But with surpluses totaling about $7 million in the water and sewer enterprise accounts, several councillors questioned the need for rate increases on Monday night.

“I don’t know why we need any increase in the water and sewer rates,” said District 1 Councillor Robert Bishop. “I don’t understand why you have to go up at all with $7 million sitting there, that should be sufficient.”

Bishop said he would be attending the DPW public hearing on the rates, tentatively scheduled for July 16 to voice his displeasure, and said he hopes to see other councillors there as well.

District 6 Councillor Giovanni Recupero, never one to mince words, said homeowners and renters will end up getting shafted by the rate increases.

“This is killing the poor people who live here,” he said. “This is not only going to drive the homeowners out, this is going to drive the tenants out, too. This is a bad thing to go up this much.

“I like living here, I don’t want to be driven out.”

District 3 Councillor Joe Perlatonda said he agreed with Recupero.

“The water bills keep going up, and the taxes keep going up,” he said. “We don’t get any relief for the city of Chelsea.”

District 2 Councillor Luis Tejada said one of the main reasons he became involved in local politics was because of rising water and tax rates.

“Bigger government isn’t going to make it better in the city,” he said. “We need to put the brakes on.”

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