The City Council voted 7-2 to go ahead with a $342 million dollar upgrade to the city's water and sewer systems. City Manager John Shirey recommended issuing tax-exempt bonds to pay for treatment plant expansion, new water lines, and new water meters. He says this will save ratepayers money compared to a "pay-as-you-go" strategy.
SHIREY: In the same time frame, on a pay-as-you-go basis, we would need to raise water rates this year by 49 percent and raise sewer rates by 102 percent."
The idea was unpopular among people who spoke -people like J. Bolton Phillips.
Phillips: You're gonna see us, up close and personal, in a number of ways. One way is on election day ."
Shirey says the project will also reduce sewage discharges and move water lines from underneath private property.
SHIREY: "Much of what we're doing is remaining in compliance with regulatory mandates.. By taking action now, we can for the most part do it on our schedule and on our terms rather than following the dictates of state and federal regulators and the courts."
The city sent out 177,000 notices to ratepayers and received only 240 responses.