City of Palo backpedals on water bill hike

The city of Palo may be backpedaling a decision to hike water bills.
Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 5:49 AM CDT
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PALO, Iowa (KCRG) - Palo city council members said Monday night they would officially vote on canceling the ordinances that put higher water rates in place at their next meeting.

They added people in Palo will likely be able to pay their water bills at the old rates, for the next few months at least.

Monday night’s meeting began with an address from the mayor, which included an apology.

“This was not our intention, to hit families with bills hundreds of dollars more than they are used to,” said Mayor Eric Van Kerckhove. “Our delivery and communication, although done correctly by code, along with extras including Facebook and special meetings—should have been better.”

The mayor apologized, but people still wanted to share why they were outraged. One woman went up to the microphone to share her bill was $692, half of her Social Security check.

Higher costs weren’t the only issues. Along with the new costs, people said their bills showed they were using water at a rate they simply didn’t believe. One woman said, “My bill said I consumed 12,800 gallons this last month.”

The mayor also said in his opening address that the new rates were because the sewer and water systems were running at a deficit.

“The reasons that we looked at these rates is because our accounting system was screwed up,” the mayor said. “We were handed this mess to clean up, and bills were not being coded correctly by prior staff, and there was no way to tell where money was going and for what.”

The next city council meeting is August 15.

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