Bay City Residents Protest Utility Rate Hikes 9-13-2010 - WNEM TV 5

Bay City Residents Protest Utility Rate Hikes 9-13-2010

Bay City residents upset at recent utility rate increases protested outside City Hall on Monday.
The picket was organized by a local man upset over hikes to his utility bill that he claims are stretching household budgets to the limit.
"If they don't roll back prices, we the people are going to take over city hall," said Bay City resident and business owner Steve Beson. Beson was busy making protest signs at his party store in Bay City on Monday.
He said he's angry at the water and wastewater price increases over the past few months. The City Commission recently approved an 11 percent increase in wastewater fees.
Beson said his residential and business utility bills took a big jump last month after the increase went into effect. "My residence utility bill [was] $711, [and] my business was $2,400," said Beson. "We figured out the rates for the last three months. We haven't made a dime on fountain drinks and we've had to readjust our prices to suit. For every $25 worth of water, it's $95 for sewer."
Beson said he's talked with hundreds of customers in his store who fear they won't be able to pay their utility bills due to the recent hikes. And he said he wants something done to roll back the utility rates.
"We want a city manager that doesn't treat this city like a business for profit, and it's supposed to be a city for nonprofit, to take care of its citizens," said Beson. "Citizens are supposed to be first. Citizens in this town are last."
City Manager Robert Belleman is on vacation this week and couldn't comment on the recent utility rate increases.
Meanwhile, Beson said city commissioners who don't at least look at rolling back utility rates could be the target of a recall petition.
The wastewater division for Bay City said the recent increase was necessary due to declining revenues and the loss of Hampton Township from the city's sewer department.
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