Kingsbury water bills to increase 13 percent
Kingsbury residents might balk when they see their water bills this summer.
The Kingsbury General Improvement District Board of Trustees declared its intent last week to raise water rates by 13.25 percent, effective July 1.
“This is a significant increase and we recognize that, but it’s long overdue,” said Candi Rohr, general manager for the district. “The board and management wish they didn’t have to do this.”
The hike would affect all 2,500 residential and commercial Kingsbury water connections. If the 13.25 percent hike passes the final decision-making process, residential flat rates will jump from $37.75 to $42.75 a month, and commercial meter rates, now $3.28 per 1,000 gallons, increase to $3.71 per 1,000 gallons.
“A declaration of intent does not necessarily mean the increase is set in stone,” Rohr said. “A final decision will be taken by the board after a May 20 public hearing.”
According to board Chairman Jim Beattie, the rate increase is long overdue and crucial toward avoiding future water line complications.
“We have 46-year-old water lines with hundreds of leaks, and the situation is getting worse,” Beattie said. “But we just didn’t have the money in the last few years, mainly because of massive snow removal needs and road repairs.”
Last year, the board imposed a $13.50 monthly snow removal fee on Kingsbury residents to help offset road repair and snow removal costs.
“You have to keep the roads in decent passable condition, we were running out of money so we implemented the snow removal fee,” Beattie said. “That didn’t help the water situation though, but we did not feel it was appropriate to hit people with a double-whammy. Three years later though, it’s time to take action.”
The last water rate increase took effect July 1996 – a 5.6 percent hike. The 1999 increases would be used for major repairs.
“Basically, we have deteriorating water systems. Our water lines are old and leaking. We have a number of miles of water line and water tanks that need repair and replacement. We need pump station improvements,” Rohr said. “The current rates are not providing sufficient funds for these capital improvements which need to take place.”
According to Beattie, some of the current water lines are still original military surplus pipes, purchased after World War II.
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Update 9:15 a.m. — Power has been restored to about 3,700 customers, according to the Liberty Utilities outage map.