PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - In a controversial 4-1 vote, Charlotte County Commissioners voted to raise utility bills.
Charlotte County Utilities says it can't keep up when it comes to paying its bills, so customers will need to up the flow of cash, in the form of higher water and sewer bills.
Starting Oct. 1, water will cost three-quarters of a percent more, which will add an extra 30 cents per month to the average household's water bill. Sewer will go up six percent, or an average of $2.59 per month.
In a public hearing Tuesday, anger boiled over.
Residents sounded off for two hours, some of them accusing the county of corruption and mismanagement of money.
"Half the people we're dealing with are on fixed incomes, but they don't care," said Mary Mulcahy, a Charlotte County resident. "They can keep zapping the public."
"It's all a way to extort money from property owners," said Christine Marfut, who owns a house in Charlotte County.
"It's not a fun topic," said Commissioner Bill Truex, who voted for the increase. "I understand why they're against it. I'm not really happy about it myself."
The rate increases will allow CCU to give its employees raises for the first time in five years. The money will also fund capital improvement projects and a meter replacement program.