Lubbock residents react to water rate increase, city leaders respond - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/1/09

Lubbock residents react to water rate increase, city leaders respond

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - NewsChannel 11 viewers demand action after a story we first told you about Tuesday, and city leaders say they're just as upset as some of you and will make changes.

Lubbock residents now pay more than double the $8 they paid last month for their water base rate. The increase to $18 went into effect April 1st. However, NewsChannel 11 broke the story that you will pay the higher April rates on water you used in March.

"For example - if a meter is read on the 10th of April, that will have 10 days in April and about 20 days in March," Deputy City Manager Tom Adams said. After we aired that comment we received dozens of emails and phone calls from furious citizens. One viewer said she is so fed up with city council she could just scream.

But as we found out, viewers weren't the only ones who thought effective April first meant just that. "None of us knew that the water we used last week was going to be charged at the higher rate. None of us knew that the water we used two weeks ago would be charged at the higher rate," City Councilman John Leonard started the ball rolling Wednesday morning after learning about the retro-active rates.

He says that was not the intent of the water commission nor was it the intent of the council when they voted in favor of Lubbock's water rate increase, "Everyone was anticipating that April 1st the new rate would go into effect. We were not aware that the water going back into March would be charged at the new rate. I don't think that was fair to our citizens to make it retro-active like that, even though the wording on the ordinance could be interpreted to do that."

Mayor Tom Martin, who is currently meeting with area lawmakers in Washing DC, agrees. He asked the city manager to place an item on next week's city council agenda to amend the water ordinance, "For those folks who receive a bill in April, for any part of the consumption period that was in March, that we would rebate in a future water bill hopefully next month the difference between the old and new rates."

"Some bill have already gone out, but to be honest with the citizens and try to do what we told them would happen, even though the ordinance might say different we need to do it this way, we need to refund the money," Leonard said.

We called all city council members to get their opinion on the amendment:

Linda DeLeon: "I was against raising rates in the first place" ... "I'd support it."

Paul Beane: "I do not want citizens paying additional for a single drop of water used in March.  I'm for getting it passed immediately."

Floyd Price: "I would like us to not charge (April rates) for March."

We left a message for both Jim Gilbreath and Todd Klein.

We also sat down with Adams Wednesday, and he says the wording on the ordinance is the same as several previous water rate ordinances. It's actually been the same for at least a decade, but he says they can look into making changes to the terminology to make it easier for citizens to understand.

3/31/09
Questions about water rate hike
It's a date most Lubbock residents are dreading. Wednesday April 1st most Lubbock household's base water rate will more than double. NewsChannel 11's Katie Bauer has more. 

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