KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A cold glass of necessity will now cost you more in Kansas City starting May 1. The city is tacking on an average of $8-9 per month to residents’ water bills.
The city water department says the increase will pay for infrastructure upgrades and federally-mandated programs, but citizen George Lakes, Jr. said the hike will hurt.
“It's water, it's a necessity so a lot of them feel like their backs are against the wall and they just have to pay it,” Lakes said.
Lake said he's spent months reviewing what he calls other issues with the water department: referrals elsewhere when he calls with questions, high bills, confusing statements.
“Everybody has to hold their breath because they don't know what to expect, what their bill is going to be, once they receive their water bill in the mail,” Lakes said.
Jimmy Crawford wants the city to look into other ways to get more money.
“I'm on a fixed income. I don't make any extra money. Maybe put a quarter-cent sales tax on food items, or something other than the way they're doing it. You could have a combination of raising the water rates at the residence, plus a sales tax," he said.
The city says businesses will see an increase too, though the information on how much they'll pay wasn't available. The men plan to take their questions to City Hall, while they try to rearrange their budgets.
“When you're on a fixed income, every penny counts,” Crawford said.
Kansas City has some of the oldest pipes in the country, some dating back to the Civil War. The mayor put a group of 15 people together to hold public meetings over the next year to examine other ways to get money besides this bill increase.
Information from the city: Beginning May 1, the average residential customer will experience a monthly billing increase of about $0.64 for water and $7.78 for wastewater, with no increase for stormwater. The new rates, approved by the City Council, will fund the ongoing maintenance and improvement of Kansas City’s water infrastructure, including the wastewater investments required by the 25-year, federally-mandated Overflow Control Program.