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Although the weather was nice and cool on Tuesday, Sept. 11, things seemed to get hot and heated during the Elsberry City Council meeting as several citizens came to voice concerns about seemingly high water bills.
Since the start of the Elsberry water project, issues have plagued the community, several water main breaks, boil alerts and what some residents claimed as poor water quality just to name a few. So when their monthly bill came in and they noticed an increase in rates, many decided to bring their concerns in front of Elsberry Aldermen.
“I think it’s outrageous,” said one resident. “The quality of water is poor, half the time it seems like we can’t even get water, yet we’re paying as though everything is Ok. It’s just not right.”
This seemed to be the consensus amongst all those who attended. “Milky water, high rates, bad management.”
“What I’m here to talk about tonight is our water,” said Elsberry resident and business owner Terrie Harper. “I have a water bill in the amount of $146.47. Now, the month before that my bill was only $73.64, which means I used $72.83 more water. I checked, I do not have a water leak and nothing has changed from what I used last month to this month. I need an answer. I want to know why my water bill is like this?”
One of the biggest problems, Harper said she has is that on a down economy and struggling with small financial issues, she cannot afford these kinds of rates, as many others have stated as well.
“I have had to go to my parents the last few months for help, I can’t sell my house because I owe more than what it’s worth, which forces me in having to stay, but this I cannot afford,” Harper said. “And I’ve been told I might as well get used to it because it’s going up again and I really don’t know what we are going to do.”
Harper’s suggestion to the board was somehow, someway, making the community and the board work together to find a solution that could work for all involved. According to her, there are people in Elsberry who have it harder than she does and she doesn’t understand how these rates hikes are going to work.
The other big question Harper asked was who or what administration came up with the idea to charge Elsberry residents up to the next 1000 gallons for water usage?
“Personally I don’t think that right,” Harper said. “How are we going to be charged for water we don’t use, I don’t get it.”
According to Elsberry Alderman Matt Hartley, something has to be done, what is being done is not fair or beneficial for anyone.
“I’m glad you showed up and your right [Harper] something does have to be done,” Hartley said. “I hear this all the time.”
Elsberry Mayor Terry Martin said as far as he knows the ordinance allowing the 1000-gallon round up was done approximately seven years ago. However, nobody has been able to confirm whether that is true or not. What was determined was during the past City Collectors term, the round up was not implemented and it has only been since the position was taken over by current City Collector Gilbert Rimel that it was put into effect.
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