HOLYOKE, Mass. (WGGB) — The public will find out which Holyoke home and business owners are delinquent on their sewer bills in this Sunday’s Republican. But the people who owe an average of $665 have known for a long time. The worst offender, Windsor Realty on Essex Street, owes more than $62,000.
In all the city has been trying to recover over $330,000 in unpaid 2012 bills. All those delinquent were sent a letter warning that if within 60 days they didn’t pay, their name could be published.
“When we sent out the letter saying this is going to happen, we usually, we’ve been running at about 30% or 40% of the people will just clear up the matter then before we even get to the publication,” said Holyoke Treasurer Jon Lumbra.
If not paid then, the city can put a lien on the property. They can even revoke a businesses license.
“You really don’t want to get to a lien because within the city, within the municipality, we have to charge 16% interest on that,” said Lumbra.
It might seem to some a bit extreme to embarrass people into paying their bill. But Holyoke Mayor ALex Morse said while these people owe, everyone else could pay.
“So, basically we’re telling people who live in the city that we potentially have to raise the sewer rate because your neighbor isn’t paying their bill,” said Morse. “Before we push to raise those rates on the law abiding residents, we should really crack down on those people who aren’t paying their bills. And as you can see on the list, upwards of $60,000 is what some individuals owe.”
As for the legality of publishing names, Lumbra said the state mandates it for those delinquent on property taxes. They make it optional for other fees and taxes.