Criticism Over Absarokee Water Rate Hike - KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

Criticism Over Absarokee Water Rate Hike

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ABSAROKEE -

Some residents in the town of Absarokee, in Stillwater County, are upset over a proposal by the town's water board to raise water rates.

"It's just six months ago that you doubled our rates for other reasons." said one woman at a public meeting Tuesday evening.

The rate increase, according to materials provided by Water Board members, will affect those using over 4,000 gallons of water a month.

"Right now, the basic rate is $17. They've got a $17 tank fee on there." said Richard Kissler, a former member of the Absarokee Water and Sewer Board, who was at the meeting Tuesday. When divided, the base water rate is $4.25 per every 1,000 gallons, up to 4,000 gallons.

Currently, the overage rate, according to members of the Board, is $1.61 per 1,000 gallons. The cost to pump the water is $3.41 per 1,000 gallons. The proposed rate increase will more than double the existing overage rate, to make it the same as the base rate, per 1,000 gallons.

The meeting Tuesday was lively, as people present expressed their concerns over the water rate hike. Board members also disagreed over various other items, from computer purchases to previous decisions made by the board. After the meeting, some board members told KULR-8 News they need more money to repair and maintain their existing infrastructure. Town residents say the current predicament faced by the water board stems from other reasons.

"A big chunk of the water is lost. The meter from where it comes out at, they say that more water is going through than they can account for in the houses." said Kissler. He went on to say the board needs to take care of its many current problems first.

"Until that's done, I would not bid for any increase on rates." said Kissler.

Board members say they want to hear from more Absarokee residents on the rate hike proposal. The next meeting will be held in June.