The City Council has approved a series of water-rate increases that will more than double customers' monthly water bills in the city by the year 2000.
The council opted for a series of gradual increases after angry residents turned out at City Hall last summer to protest a one-time fee hike of more than 100%. The council rescinded the one-time increase to allow officials to arrange a series of informational hearings to explain why higher rates are necessary.
"The end result was still that the residents did not like (the increase), but at least now they understood why we did it," said Roger Haley, an assistant to the city manager. "Now they're going along with it pretty well."
Water rates in the city will increase over the next five years to $1.68 per 700 gallons of water from the old rate of 80 cents. The first rate increase--to $1.10 from 80 cents--took effect March 1.
The increase is the first in eight years, and is needed to offset several years of increases in the price of water purchased from the Metropolitan Water District, Haley said.