By Patric Hedlund
The Lebec County Water District Board of Directors voted 3-1 on May 31 to increase water rates. The residential base rate will increase from about $12.10 for 1,000 cubic feet of water per month to about $36.30 for 750 c.f. per month.
About 60 people attended the public hearing at the Lebec Community Church. There were 51 valid protest votes cast, 98 protest votes total. Some were disqualified for not including an address or signature, but the total was far short of the 201 needed for the 51 percent majority required to avoid the rate increase, directors explained.
Several spoke in harsh terms about hardships they felt the water rate increase would pose for families experiencing economic difficulties. Others complained that notices about the protest hearing and the “no” vote ballot were sent separately, rather than with the monthly water bills, causing many to overlook the mailing, they said.
LCWD Board Member Julie McWhorter, the ‘nay’ vote, said the notices were sent to physical addresses rather than to P. O. boxes. Board President Steve Cozzetto denied this. On Wednesday, June 1, the next morning, The Mountain Enterprise examined the Excel files used to generate the mailing labels to confirm that the P.O. box addresses were present on the mailing list we examined.
This is part of the June 03, 2011 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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