HOLYOKE, Mass. (WGGB) — Shame didn’t work for everyone. In October, the names of people and businesses that were delinquent on their sewer and water bills were printed in the newspaper. Many paid but others did not.
Last week, the city put liens on all properties for which bills are still outstanding in an effort to collect just over $506,000 for sewer and $220,000 for water. It’s the last step before foreclosure. The biggest delinquent is Windsor Realty, LLC which owes $130,000 on four apartment buildings.
“We’re not talking about a 80-year-old widow on a fixed income,” said Holyoke Treasurer, Jon Lumbra. “All of these are residential units. Most of them have state subsidized rental money coming in. So, the commonwealth is paying the landlord directly.”
How does this affect anyone else in the city? Last year, in order to make up for about $450,000 in sewage payments that didn’t come in, Lumbra said the city had to dip into what extra money the sewage account had. If people continue to owe this year, which Lumbra expects them to, the money is going to have to come out of somewhere else.
“The only other place to go is the general fund which affects all the taxpayers and would have to be raised in the tax rate for next year,” said Lumbra.
Lumbra said the city can and will file for foreclosure six months from now on all properties including windsor that haven’t paid their share. The city could begin the foreclosure process in just 90 days if a property is found to be in violation of building or health and safety codes.