Water woes: Tucsonans talk rate hike

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Water woes: Tucsonans talk rate hike

CREATED May 15, 2012

Reporter:  Jessica Chapin

TUCSON (KGUN9- TV) - Water rates will increase soon, and residents want to know why.  It's one reason Tucson Water is hosting public meetings to explain their system, which operates for no profit, and explain why they need more money.

The proposal would increase water rates about 4 to 6 percent.  Even though it will add up to just a few extra dollars on the average bill, residents like Isabel Doe say to some, that means a lot.

"Everything's going up except our paychecks," she said, "I don't think the water department has been fair enough as far as managing their departments to make sure that there isn't a rate increase."

Do was just one of several residents at Mission Library Tuesday evening getting answers.  9 On Your Side took her concerns to Tucson Water spokesperson Fernando Molina.  When asked how they answer to customer's questions about their efficiency, he responded.

"We're going through a lot of the same things that our customers are going through," he said, "In terms of efficiencies, we have 80 vacancies that we've been carrying now for two years so we're doing a lot of the work today with 80 fewer employees."

Tucson Water also plans to upgrade equipment and move to paperless billing.  Plans they say need an investment that will pay off in the long run.

The current proposal includes a $.74 increase in the service charge, a $.31 increase in the Central Arizona Project charge, and increases in the volume-based charges with incentives for people who conserve water.

Tucson Water says past increases have averaged about 3 percent a year, which is lower than the national average.

Tucson Water will hold another informational meeting with public discussion on Thursday, May 17 at Miller-Golf Links Library, 9640 E. Golf Links Road.

The Tucson City Council will vote on the proposal at their regular meeting Tuesday, May 22 at 5:30pm at City Hall, after public comment.