Published: May 20, 2010 3:27 AM EDT

CAPE CORAL, Fla. - A little relief may be on the way soon for current utility customers in Cape Coral, but it could be up to voters to decide the rest of the fix.

Wednesday night, the city council had its latest discussion about options for paying down nearly $400 million dollars in debt from water expansion.

existing utility customers... worried they'll be left with the bill for a new water plant in the north cape.

Right now, only half of the Cape is on city water; those customers are in the midst of a 92% increase in their water bills over the next five years to pay down the city's water debt.  Council members say they're willing to accept a new rate study that would drop that rate hike to 44-percent.

But Mayor John Sullivan says even those without utilities yet need to share the burden.

"There's a lot of people in here who've paid a lot of money, and I don't think they should be paying more in order to bankroll somebody else," Sullivan said.
Many on the council liked a plan that would let voters to decide on a bond to pay off the debt, while being paid back through taxes from everyone in the city.

Council member Kevin McGrail says if the council chooses that option, they need to be unified in their decision, and make sure the public is fully informed before voting on it.

"If you're gonna ask somebody to tax themselves for a utility that's already built, they better have a darn good reason why," McGrail said.  "100% of our council is rate payers.  There's nobody on council that doesn't pay a water and sewer rate, so we are definitely sensitive."