MAYFLOWER, Ark. — Families who get water from Mayflower Waterworks are struggling to pay bills they say keep rising and now they could face another significant increase.
The city run department is considering a 29 percent increase over six years. Rate hikes would be passed on in 6 percent or less, yearly increases.
Customers like Boyd Ward are questioning if they can afford that, on top of already having to pay some of the highest water bill rates in the state.
“I’ve had bills over $400,” Ward said. “Two years ago I had a bill for over $600, for just water and wastewater.”
Ward and his neighbor Eric Pigg live in a subdivision just outside the city limits, both say their bills are just for water and sewer services.
“It may be $200, $185,” Pigg said.
Pigg’s latest bill is for $142, that’s about double what Mayflower Waterworks says the average homeowner should be paying.
According to the department, homes in the city should have an average monthly bill around $70. That numbers goes up to $73.60 for homes outside city limits.
So far the Attorney General’s Office received five complaints about excessive water bills from Mayflower Waterworks, many questioned if they’re being price gouged.
“This is putting people in situations where you have to think about water bill over groceries, it’s like that for some people,” Pigg said. “You think about how your budget would be affected by a $200 water bill. There’s absolutely people in this town having to make that decision of how many groceries can I buy and still pay my water bill.”
Both men say they’ve questioned the high bills as long as they’ve lived in their homes, but haven’t gotten any answers from city hall.
“Where is this money going, and why does it have to be so high?”, Ward questioned.
When asked about those bills, Mayor Randy Holland said they were concerning.
“Mine don’t run that high,” Holland said.
Holland says he believes Mayflower Waterworks’ rates are reasonable and thinks the problem is happening on the other end.
“If you’re using more water they charge more,” Holland said. “You need to get with the water department and see what went on.”
Holland says the only increase the city is considering is needed to help rebuild the Sewage Treatment Plant which was damaged during last year’s historic flooding along the Arkansas River.
“That’d be $6.1 million,” Holland said, referring to construction costs.
Holland says about $1 million is also needed to add water and sewer lines so the city can have utilities at a property near an overpass that’s being built.
No rate hikes are set in stone
Still Ward questions how any increase would be feasible, when he says he’s already overpaying for something he can’t live without.
“Somebody please tell me, if there’s anyone out there paying close to that much for their water?”, Ward questioned.
According to Mayflower Waterworks, both Ward and Pigg did not have any leaks or work services noted on their accounts for the past three years.
Several families are planning to attend the next city council meeting in hopes their voices will be heard before a possible rate increase is voted on.