ANDERSON — The Anderson City Council gave final approval to raise water rates by 47 percent over the next two years.
The council voted late Thursday to raise the rates by 21.18 percent in 2015 and 2016 and to issue $14.3 million in bonds for infrastructure improvements.
The increase will result in the monthly bill for the minimum user of 3,000 gallons or less to climb from $13.36 to $19.62 and the bill for the average user of 5,000 gallons to increase from $18.98 to $27.87.
As it did last month, the council voted 5-3 in support of the rate increase and 4-2 on the bond issue, Councilman Ollie H. Dixon didn’t vote on the bond issue.
For almost two hours the council listened to opponents of the rate increase.
A local resident said the rate increase makes sense, but added the people can’t keep being taxed.
“There are many people living from paycheck to paycheck,” she said. “There are too many people who can’t afford the rate increase.”
Business owner Merle Strong said the rate increase would affect small businesses in the city that are trying to compete with the chain stores.
He said the city didn’t solve the problem of not paying off existing bonds by borrowing more money.
Council members said the rate increase was necessary to keep the water utility municipally owned and not sold to a private company.
Pete Heuer, chairman of the Anderson Board of Public Works, said the rate increase is necessary to maintain the city’s water department.
“It’s necessary to raise rates for the water utility,” he said. “We have enjoyed low water rates for many years.”
Heuer said the utility was already in the red this year and the water department is attempting to work through it.
Council members were told that the water department was facing a $1 million deficit at the end of 2014 and would have problems paying a previous bond issue.