Oak Ridge rate hikes spark worry

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OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (WVLT) Oak Ridge City Council is meeting to talk double digit rate hikes.

We're talking about the water and sewer rates. A consultant recommended the increase to go into effect in January, a little over four months away. The people Local 8 News talked to are really nervous.

When Rose Phillips heard Oak Ridge was thinking about raising rates, she got worried. Rose Phillips says, "That's depressing and a little scary."

Rose has three children and a tight budget. Rose says, "I try not to flush the toilet too much right now. Just with water waste. Just water in general shouldn't be wasted."

And as soon as the new year rings in, the city wants to increase sewage rates 15% and water 10%. The reason is to pay for repairs to an outdated system. Let's put it into perspective, the city tells me an average water bill is $13.50 a month. So the hike would push it to $14.85. A typical sewer bill is $18.50, so in 2014, it would $21.28.

City Manager Mark Watson says, "We're seeing costs that are going to have to be born by ratepayers just like all systems."

And that's not all, they're suggesting another increase in 2015. This time to raise water rates 8% and 10% for sewer. For Rose, she just wants council members to remember one thing. Rose says, "To know people are on a budget and keep that in mind."