In an effort to get more people to pay their water bills, Rock Island city leaders have voted to add a new fee. There are already late fees for not paying your water bill. Now though, if you get to the point where you have not paid for a while, and your water will be shut off, you will have to pay $35 for what is called a door hanger, or a notice telling you it will be shut off, which is something that wasn’t there before.
“We’re residents of the City of Rock Island and we should not be put under that type of stress,” said Fannie Haynes, who visited the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center on Monday.
She, and other homeowners say their water bills are already high and are on the rise.
“Climbing, climbing, climbing,” Haynes said. “Probably twice what we paid five or six years ago.”
“During the summer, we have a pool, so it was over $200,” added Lisa Terry, who was also at the King Center.
They say they worry for those who can’t keep up with the cost, and with a new, $35 notice of shutoff fee, they say they are even more concerned.
“Why do you need another fee for somebody who already couldn’t pay their bill,” Terry said. “Instead of sending them another $35 bill, maybe send them information for help.”
“We want to have water,” Haynes said. “We want to take baths. We want to feed our children and be able to cook. I just think it’s not a good thing that they’re doing it.”
Alderman Ivory Clark says the money collected would go toward balancing the city budget. Yet he says he too is against the fee, voting as the only alderman not for it.
“If you’re going to charge someone $35 who cannot afford to pay an extra $35, I’d rather say you don’t warn anyone at all,” he said.
He did vote in support of a different ordinance tonight, however, along with the rest of city council. This one reduces the charge for disconnecting your water. Before, it was $62.10. Now though, it has been lowered to $35. Combined with the new notice for shutoff fee, the total would be around $70, which is slightly higher than what residents would have had to pay before.
“I know they have to have their bottom dollar, and all of that, but you know, we’re out here working and trying to make it work and make a living,” Haynes said.
You can pay your water bill in one or three installments, but with the three, there is an additional fee. The changes to the water fees go into effect ten days Monday’s council meeting.