Posted: Aug 23, 2012 7:11 PM by Shannon Davis
Updated: Aug 23, 2012 7:12 PM
The Butte-Silver Bow Council of Commissioners heard a presentation by the Butte Water Company, Wednesday evening requesting for a 10 percent utility increase. The floor was open for public comment and an overwhelming number of people opposed the increase.
"I don't use that much water, and I think that it does seem high," said Denise Solko, a Butte resident who attended the meeting on Wednesday.
Solko is a single woman who has lived in Uptown Butte for 20 years. She recently switched her flat rate water system to a metered system hoping it would decrease her utility bill.
Flat rate customers are charged based on the number of rooms in their home, according to Karen Hassler, central services program manager for Public Works.
All flat-rate customers who reside in private residences must pay a flat fee of $18.01. The charges increase based on the estimated amount of water furnished to supply various fixtures. All of the estimates are subject to raise 10 percent if the utility rate is passed.
Sprinkling rates for flat rate customers are based on the size of the yard, according to Hassler.
Solko was charged for 875 square feet of yard area before she switched to a metered system.
"I've measured it [her yard] and I don't come up with anything like that," Solko said. "It's tiny."
The Butte Water Company suggests that customers, especially those living alone, change to a metered system because metered customers are charged based on the amount of water they use.
Solko feels she is paying too much even after her switch to the metered system.
"It's making a noticeable impact for me as far as bills that I have to pay on a monthly basis," Solko said.
Jim Kennedy, another concerned Butte resident who made his case at the council meeting Wednesday, is making efforts as well to keep his bills down.
"I've tried to conserve water by planting trees," Kennedy said.
His lawn is green and he hopes the trees he has planted will shade the lawn and hold the water longer. Kennedy said he might not be able to cope with the utility rate increase, but he will subject to it. He won't let his lawn fall into disrepair like many of his neighbors.
"In this neighborhood alone people are on fixed incomes," Kennedy said. "They are on limited incomes so the first things they cut are the nonessential things like watering their yards."
The Butte Water Company claims they need $125 million for improvement that need to be made to the domestic water supply system. The company has recognized that a few extra dollars can make an impact on a monthly budget but they have said "water is essential."
"I think the commissioners do a good job, but I think they need to look at alternative methods for raising the revenue," Kennedy said.
The utility rate increase will be on the agenda for the next regular council meeting during the first week of September.