Highland Park residents' water rates soar

People in Highland Park are boiling that their water rates are about to soar.

The planned rate hike is actually a return to what it was a couple of years ago. It is part of a requirement for a multi-million dollar loan the city received last year as part of its plan of readjustment.

While some would argue it's part of the city's long road to recovery- residents say they're being raked over the coals. 

"As far as I'm concerned they can be tarred and feathered and shown where the border is," said resident Marian Kramer.  

Residents were livid as their city council approved a water rate hike Monday. 

It comes as many residents are drowning in absurdly high water bills after the city stopped sending them two years ago. When it resumed, the bills were astronomical. 

Residents say they were never told a good reason why.

"How are you going to raise your water rates when a person has a $14,000 water bill," said resident Shirley Turner. "We don't know how they are going to pay them? How are you going to do this?"

The rate hike could more than double residential bills  If someone is paying $170 every three months, that will go up to $400.

Businesses paying more than $1,600 a month, now will pay a little more than $3,000.

City administrator Cathy Square says the rate hike will help Highland Park pay for a third party to handle its water department operations.

"You have the water and sewer charges billed by Detroit water and sewer there are bond payments in that amount, and there's money for capital improvements to the system," Square said.

"We're an old city it's time for us to finally start to catch up to 2015," said Rodney Patrick, city councilman. "We're behind the times but these changes have to be incremental. We have to give our residents a chance to budget and be economically savvy to handle these large bills."

Highland Park set up an amnesty program and will knock 30 percent off what residents owe. The problem is they have to pay that remaining balance in full.

"I got this bill on the first of this month," said resident Khursheed Shafil. "And they want me to pay it on the first of this month - $4,511.52 where do they think I have that money at."

Carolyn Wray got a bill for nearly $8,000 and says amnesty wont help and the rate hike will rake her over the coals

"It's unacceptable, I don't understand, I need answers," Wray said. "She told me I have to pay the $5,000 by the first of July. Or what? I don't know she said it's going to be added to my credit report. 

"I'm a retired DMC employee. I just retired four months ago, this is unacceptable."

Those new rates will go into effect July 1. There is a hope that the rates could go down once the Great Lakes Regional Water Authority is in place.

Residents are blaming previous city leadership for the mistakes and they say they are getting the blame for it.
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