Lawton council approves water rate hike - KSWO, Lawton, OK- Wichita Falls, TX: News, Weather, Sports. ABC, 24/7, Telemundo -

Lawton council approves water rate hike

Lawton_The Lawton City Council approved their 2008 budget Tuesday night, which included higher water bills.  THat element of the budget drew the most criticism and attention during the final public hearing on the matter at City Hall.  The council had  proposed a rate and fee increase on the water bill that would raise the average customer's bill by $10-to-$12. 

Just over a dozen citizens showed up at the hearing and a small handful spoke. Many had the same complaint, saying it isn't the public's job to balance the budget.

One said city officials habitually raise utility rates when revenues don't meet expectations. Another said the city needs to conserve money and energy by turning off lights--even streetlights.  Another concern was from people on fixed incomes, both social security and disabled military, wanting to adjust their payment dates based on when they receive their checks.

City finance director Rick Endicott said it's not feasible to arrange bills based on the paydays of the 33,000 customers, but that may become possible when the city gets new automated water meters.

The council did approve the increased fees for city-provided water, but it wasn't unanimous. "You just can't keep putting this on these people, continually, I just don't like it. Time will tell, that's all I can tell you," said Ward 5 Councilman Bob Shanklin.

However, Shanklin was the only councilman to oppose the resolution, although some were reluctant to raise fees.

"It's not that we want to do this, but hopefully this year we can get through this and next year we'll be in better shape," said Ward 3 Councilman Janice Drewry.

In the end, the council approved the recommended water rate hikes, and fee increases, which included a $2 fuel surcharge. City officials said rising fuel costs were a major factor in their increased expenses.

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