Published: Aug 20, 2012 5:21 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 20, 2012 6:15 PM EDT

FORT MYERS, Fla.- Customers may have to pay more for water and sewer services in the city of Fort Myers, starting October 1st. The city council voted late Monday to move the proposed hikes to a public hearing in September.

"Rates are too high now. We do not need them to go up any more," said Chris Cann, a homeowner in Fort Myers. "It is discouraging."

The city staff is using a consultant's study to justify the possible hike in rates, and a hike of five percent in each year of the next five. That study says the city needs more money for improving the water and sewer systems, for higher operating costs, and for payment of debts on bonds.

"If they need to improve the system, so be it. Come on, it's only five percent. We can handle it," said David Hawkins, a Fort Myers property owner and water and sewer customer.

Evan Daniell, owner of Evans Pizza in the city, said he would rather not have a hike in rates, but if it has to be, he wants to know more details on how the extra money would be spent.

Daniell says businesses have a way to cope with higher costs for things like utilities: They pass the extra costs on to consumers.  

"I am afraid that is going to happen. The customer is going to pay for this," said Daniell.

The consultant's study of the utility costs says that  Fort Myers might have to raise rates by as much as nine percent a year, starting in 2018.