Water rate increases draw discussion at Campbell council

CAMPBELL

City council convened Wednesday for the first time since Mayor Nick Phillips announced that water rates would increase in the city beginning April 1.

Usage rates will increase $2, from $4.50 per thousand gallons used to $6.50 per thousand gallons used.

Phillips said the rate increase came at the recommendation of state auditors who reviewed the city’s budget for fiscal year 2018 and noted the water department as an area of concern.

The city’s water department — which has been operating at a deficit for the past three years — has been trying to contend with the rising cost of treatment chemicals and increasing federal regulations, while attempting to maintain aging equipment and fix frequent breaks in the nearly century-old water lines. On top of that, rate increases over the past 20 years have been few and far between and have not kept up with inflation.

Phillips said that the water rates were a “political football” in the past, and that no previous mayor wanted to be the one to have raised the water rates. The increase will be the second during Phillips’ tenure as mayor; in 2016, he increased the fixed rate from $12.75 to $21.75.

Council President George Levendis supported the mayor’s decision.

“I want to thank the mayor for doing what he had to do,” Levendis said.

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