Bay County Considering Water Rate Hikes

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BAY COUNTY - Nearly 6,000 Bay County residents could see their water and sewage bill go up soon. County commissioners are considering a proposal to raise rates for their retail customers.

This proposal would mainly affect the Cedar Grove and Southport communities.

Using Bay County's water and sewage system could get more expensive for thousands of local residents.

County commissioners are considering raising water rates for the county's retail customers including home and business owners. For the first 1,000 gallons of water, the price would go up about $12 a month.

County officials say if commissioners pass this proposal, it means the more water you use, the more you will be charged depending on if you reach a certain threshold.

The average customer uses about 5,000 gallons of water and that would go up nearly $19 a month or $225 a year.

Cedar Grove resident Mae Ford says she can barely pay her bills now.

"It's very hard because you just can't pay the bill as it is. I'm the only person that lives in my house and i don't use that much water," said Ford.

Currently the county is losing half a million dollars a year and going into debt. If commissioners don't approve the proposal, county officials say it could have severe effects.

"Far reaching ramifications on our ability to borrow money. Not just for this system but say for the upcoming alternative water project that we're looking at," said Dan Shaw, Assistant County Manager.

"And that's not my problem. It doesn't have anything to do with me. So I don't think the resident, any of us, should have to pay no $19 a month. That's the commission," said Ford.

This proposal will not affect residents and businesses on city water. Commissioners will have another public hearing on the topic on March 4th.

If commissioners approve the proposal, it could go into effect as early as April.