Hallsdale Powell Utility District customers vent frustration

Hallsdale Powell Utility District customers vent frustration over water bills

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More than 30 people were at the meeting, but nearly 24,000 people have signed the petition requesting a rate review of HPUD. More than 30 people were at the meeting, but nearly 24,000 people have signed the petition requesting a rate review of HPUD.
"People are deciding not to move to Halls or to leave Halls solely because of their water bills," one resident at the meeting. "People are deciding not to move to Halls or to leave Halls solely because of their water bills," one resident at the meeting.
Many carried their water bills in hand as they stood up to voice their complaints. Many carried their water bills in hand as they stood up to voice their complaints.
"Any time the public comes and lets us know what they think, that's a good thing," explained Mike Cohen, public relations representative for HPUD. "Any time the public comes and lets us know what they think, that's a good thing," explained Mike Cohen, public relations representative for HPUD.

By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

HALLS (WATE) – Hallsdale-Powell Utility District customers showed up by the dozens to the monthly board meeting Monday to express their frustration over high water rates.

More than 30 people were at the meeting, but over 2,700 people have signed the petition requesting a rate review of HPUD.

Monday's meeting was the first time many of the residents stood before the board to voice their concerns and many complaints got a little heated.  

"There's no way someone can stay in business if they pay more for their water bill than they do their electricity," said one resident who pays more than $300 a month for his small business.

Many carried their water bills in hand as they stood up to voice their complaints.

"People are deciding not to move to Halls or to leave Halls solely because of their water bills," said another resident.  

Board members made a point to respond to each complaint, dragging the normally half hour meeting to more than two hours.

"I understand you're all upset with your rates like I was. Nobody likes to pay high water rates, including me," said new commissioner Todd Cook.

The board said this was the largest turnout for a meeting and they welcome the public's opinion.

"Any time the public comes and lets us know what they think, that's a good thing and I think commissioners are glad to hear it and I think both sides are learning from the other side," explained Mike Cohen, public relations representative for HPUD.

Russ Rymer, the man organizing the online petition, was happy with the turnout.

"I think it's validation that we're not the only ones, not the only people looking at the bill each month saying 'What's going on here?'," said Rymer.

Residents said there was a small victory to come out of Monday's meeting.

The board approved moving four of their 12 meetings a year to 6:00 p.m. so that more residents could attend.

"Just to let them know the community is paying attention to what they're doing and every decision they make needs to have the community in mind," said Rymer.

HPUD admits their rates are high, many customers pay nearly twice as much as other utility companies like KUB and First Utility District, but said the rates, while still increasing, are increasing at a much smaller rate than years past.

The company's president and CEO, Darren Cardwell, also said they would look into credits for low-income households and a grace period for late payments.

Angry residents, though, said they still want a rate review. They need a little over 600 signatures on their online petition before they can present it to the board. They hope to present it at the December meeting.

You can find the petition on Change.org.

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