Residents react to Liberty Utilities rate hike - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Residents react to Liberty Utilities rate hike

Liberty Utilities services customers in part of Tyler and Smith County. (Source: KLTV) Liberty Utilities services customers in part of Tyler and Smith County. (Source: KLTV)
Wastewater utilities customers will see their flat rate bills increase over the next two years. (Source: KLTV) Wastewater utilities customers will see their flat rate bills increase over the next two years. (Source: KLTV)
Customers are divided into three service areas: Tall Timbers inside Tyler city limits, Tall Timbers outside Tyler city limits, and Woodmark. (Source: KLTV) Customers are divided into three service areas: Tall Timbers inside Tyler city limits, Tall Timbers outside Tyler city limits, and Woodmark. (Source: KLTV)
Around 1400 ratepayer protests were filed with the State of Texas against the rate increase. (Source: Texas Public Utilities Commission) Around 1400 ratepayer protests were filed with the State of Texas against the rate increase. (Source: Texas Public Utilities Commission)
The City of Tyler was able to negotiate the initial request down by 52 percent for their residents. (Source: KLTV) The City of Tyler was able to negotiate the initial request down by 52 percent for their residents. (Source: KLTV)
TYLER, TX (KLTV) -

The State of Texas approved Liberty Utilities' rate increase request for its customers in the City of Tyler and Smith County on Monday. Tuesday, residents and customers in the area continue to show their distaste for the increase.

"It's been frustrating," Liberty Utilities Tall Timbers customer Angela Smallwood said.

She and her family live in the Tall Timbers service area, outside of Tyler city limits. Their bill will increase to $65.60 over the next two years. The first increase hit Monday, and their newest flat rate wastewater utility bill is $54.93 per month. That number increases to $62.45 next year, then reaches its peak in August 2019.

"We have one kid that's fixing to be driving, and we've got one in college," she said.

She's concerned about budgets - her family's, and especially those families in the company's Woodmark service area. Customers in Liberty Utilities Woodmark service area will now pay a base rate of $71.85 a month. Next year, their rate increases to $79.76 a month. Then in August 2019, their rate will be $90.53 a month.

"Paying nearly $100 a month to flush the toilet is almost unthinkable," Smallwood said.

The rate increase request was submitted last year by the company. According to their website, it's to pay for needed infrastructure improvements and will not go to any increases in administrative salaries.

Also, one of the main reasons for the rate increase is because the company hasn't raised rates since 2003.

"It is going to be difficult," Tyler City Manager Edward Broussard said. "There's no way around it. There's not an opportunity to do away with that service like you could your cable bill."

The City of Tyler negotiated with the company. This brought down the initial rate increase request by more than 50 percent.

Liberty Utilities is the only service provider in the area. Around 1400 rate protests were filed by the company's customers since last September.

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