10:00 PM PDT on Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Press-Enterprise

A three-year round of water and sewer rate increases will begin in May, the Redlands City Council decided on a divided vote Tuesday evening after several hours of comments from residents mostly opposed to the increase.

Councilman Jon Harrison moved to slightly reduce the amount of the water rate increase, which was supported by Councilman Jerry Bean but failed on a 2-3 vote.

The council approved the water rate increase, with Harrison and Bean voting no. Bean also voted against the wastewater increase.

More than 100 residents attended the meeting, many saying they can’t afford to pay more and that the city needs to manage its money better. They complained about city salaries being too high and suggested the increases be postponed.

James Gordon, 28, said he is a dental student at Loma Linda University Medical Center. He and his wife have three children, a tight budget and can’t afford higher utility bills, he said.

“I oppose this rate hike,” he said.

Sharon Norman, a 34-year Redlands resident, said her water and wastewater bill is about $130 every other month.

“When that month comes, I have $50 left over for the whole month to live on. Think about the little people … Don’t run us out of town,” she said.

Steven Frazier said his family also has been affected by the recession, but an increase of $4 to $9 per bill is “not an insurmountable amount to ensure the sustainability of our water system.”

City Engineer Rosemary Hoerning said the recession has severely cut revenue.

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