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Public Speaks Out About Increased Water, Sewer and Stormwater Rates

Last updated on Wednesday, September 12, 2012

(BEDFORD) - Nothing lasts forever, and the City of Bedford’s water and sewer systems is horribly outdated and on the brink of collapse.

Mayor Shawna Girgis announced plans to renovate the city's infrastructure by proposing increases to the water and sewer rates and a new stormwater fee.

Residents filled the Chamber of Commerce conference room to listen to a presentation about the problems and the plans to address the issues. Girgis, water and wastewater and stormwater directors along with representatives from Crowe Horwath, the city's financial consultant, and Bernardin, Lochmueller, and Associates, the engineering firm leading the evaluation of the community sewer and stormwater infrastructure addressed the crowd about rates and the deteriorating water and sewer and stormwater infrastructure.

Some residents were supportive, others were not so happy about the rate increases.

Resident Tony Barrett says he was glad the city was making moves to improve the situation, but he says it was long over due.

"I can pay the bill, but others will suffer and no one is happy about the increases," Bennett said.

Nelson Peterson believes funding for the project could come from somewhere else besides rate increases.

"We all know we need to do something," Peterson said. "But many of us are on limited incomes and there has to be another way to finance this. You have reduced the street department by 10 people where is that money. You charge us for trash collection where is that money? There are all ready 300 people on the delinquent property tax list and people are losing their homes and Crane is planning to cut at least 20 people...this is just the tip of the iceberg."

Debbie Butler says hundreds of families are standing in food pantry lines to feed their families. "Every day there are families begging for food," She says. "People don't have money to feed their families and for basic needs. How many families are all ready delinquent on their water bills. How many more are going to be added to that list?"

Virgil Corbin says he was glad the city was stepping up to the plate.

"There are some things that bothers me about this," Corbin says. "I really hope the city gets the best bang for their buck."

Doug Kellams says the infrastructure is a bomb waiting to blow and residents will be without water for days. He says at least this administration was addressing the issue.

According to the water rate study: a resident that currently uses 5,000 gallons of water is charged $22.59 a month, after the increase they will be charged $29.83, a $7.24 increase.

According to the sewer rate study: a resident that dumps 5,000 gallons of sewer currently pays $32.69 a month, after the increase they will be charged $42.81, a $10.12 increase.

Residents will be charged a $5 stormwater rate for one ERU per month. Corporations will be charged per ERU. One ERU equals 3,000 square feet. ERUs for all other customers will be based on the total amount of square footage of the parcel divided by 3,000 square feet. Businesses will be charged a maximum of $250 a month regardless of the number of ERUs because Girgis wants to attract and keep business in the county.

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