Gregory residents could soon be paying more for water if City Council has its way. City leaders say they need the extra revenue to pay off a $3 million loan they took out in 2011.
The mayor pro tem says the City has to do this in order to make the loan payments, which are approximately $236,000 a year. Revenues that used to come into the city from the game rooms are no longer coming in because those game rooms have all been shut down.
"I'm going to be honest with you, okay? I'm going to be honest with everybody. The 8-liners should have never been part of the equation. Never," Gregory Mayor Pro Tem Celestino Zambrano said. "However, because we were not updating the money, yes, part of these payments came out of the 8-liner account, which is no longer here."
The City says it may have to adopt a flat-fee charge of $15 more per water meter. There are some 650 water meter accounts in Gregory.
So far, the City says it has paid $210,000 on the principal of the $3 million loan. The City took the loan from Frost Bank in 2011, saying that the majority of the money was spent on street improvements, street signs and the purchase of new water meters.
"The City says that, you know, if the City doesn't raise these rates, they're not going to be able to pay off this loan and they'll default. It's nobody's fault but themselves. The City. The Council, and all of them," Gregory resident Dell said. "Not the people that live here."
"I have -- four, five, six -- six meters. Raise them. I don't care," Gregory businessman Nick Turner said. "Maybe it will make the town nicer. We get some more money, we can get something nice."
"There's a lot of people here in Gregory that, they're poor people, they're taking the bread out of those people," Gregory resident Steve Rodriguez said. "There's a lot of people more poor than me, that those $15, they can use it for gas. For food."
Right now, the City is just waiting for legal clearance before they go ahead and raise the rates. They say it will require a series of public hearings, where the general public will be made fully aware of why the City says it has to do this.
The City says it is trying to schedule the hearings to take place in November so that they can have the raised rates in place no later than Jan. 1, 2014.
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