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Whiteville Residents Protesting Water Rate Increase

By Meghan Pinkley
By mpinkley@wbbjtv.com

WHITEVILLE, Tenn. - An entire city is outraged after opening their water bills to find out they had skyrocketed. Whiteville residents said without notice, their August water bill went up 24 percent. They claimed they have not had an increase in their water rates in 17 years.

The city council meeting was a full house Monday night as angry Whiteville residents came to get answers. Mayor James Bellar said the water rate increase was all because of the state.

Many residents said their bills jumped from $50 to $110 or doubled.

A spokesperson with the Tennessee Water and Waste Water Financial Board said that water facilities are supposed to operate in a self-sufficient manner. State records show for the past two years Whiteville has had a decline in assets, and because of that, is now under state control. Mayor Bellar said he approved the jump in water rates to help bring the city into compliance.

State officials said the manner in which the city chooses to comply with the law is left to the decision of the town council. The town knows what its needs are. The citizens do not get a vote in rate increases. The bottom line, state law says utility districts need to operate in the black. Rates, fees and charges have to be sufficient to cover operations and maintenance, debt service and depreciation.

Residents exclaim there is no way they can continue to pay this increase.
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