LEE -- Home and business owners in Lee can expect higher water/sewer bills -- and likely pay more in property taxes -- after July 1.

The town's Board of Public Works has approved an 11 percent increase in water/sewer rates effective for the second quarter bills issued in July. The rate hike, in part, will help cover a shortfall in the sewer account and pay for loans on two water improvement projects: the South Lee water tank project and the water main replacement on Tyringham Road.

The increase calls for charging $5.54 per 750 gallons of water used, the sewer at $9.04 based on the same 750-gallon amount. The current rates are $5 and $8.14 respectively for water and sewer.

A typical water/sewer bill fluctuates from quarter to quarter based on usage, but Lee Public Works Superintendent Christopher Pompi says right now a two-person household pays about $300 every three months.

Meanwhile, the proposed $20.8 million town budget for fiscal 2015 starting July 1 shows nearly $400,000 -- or 2 percent -- more than the current spending plan of $20.4 million. If approved at Lee's Annual Town Meeting in May, the average property tax bill for a single-family home valued at $245,000 will jump $78 to $3,548. For fiscal 2014 ending June 30, the increase was only $5, despite a $672,000 spending hike for the current fiscal year.

Town Administrator Robert Nason says a lack of growth in the town's tax base the past year has increased the tax burden on existing property owners.


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He praised various department heads for showing fiscal restraint in making their individual budget requests.

"Everybody in Town Hall has done their best to be as lean as possible," Nason said. "The School Committee coming in with a 1.14 percent increase was extremely helpful."

The school board on Tuesday will hold a public hearing on the proposed $8.24 million school spending plan for fiscal 2015. The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Lee Elementary School cafeteria.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com
or (413) 496-6233

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com
or (413) 496-6233