Rocky Ford citizens having to pay for city's mismanagement of money

Rocky Ford citizens having to pay for...

ROCKY FORD, Colo. - People in Rocky Ford are upset over another increase to their monthly water bill.

It will go partially to paying off the city's debt after what the city calls an accounting error.

Jessica Hosea has lived in Rocky Ford for several years.

"It feels like over the years it's just gotten higher and higher and higher with no performance increase," Hosea said.

She said water rate increases aren't new.

"All throughout the year we would notice our bill  going up because of more rate increases to pay for the 'crumbling infrastructure," Hosea said.

She consistently pays bills more than $100.

"Almost twice as much as I was last year," Hosea said.

Now,  the Rocky Ford City Council has approved another three percent increase.

Part of the money will go to maintenance and infrastructure improvements, which water customers already pay $20 for every month.

"It was supposed to be temporary and it wasn't  temporary and is now pulled into the base rate of your water bill," Hosea said.

Interim city manager Gary Cox said that fee doesn't cover everything.

"There's just a lot of costs that are involved in operating the water and sewer system," Cox said.

Part of the increase to get the city back in compliance on a loan it took out for improvements in the 2000s.

"They replaced water lines, they drilled a new well, they replaced the tanks up on the hill," Cox said.

Cox said the general and enterprise accounts were pooled together when they weren't supposed to be, and departments outspent the money they set aside in the budget.

"We did everything, we made the payments, but we didn't keep that money separated for that compliance issue," Cox said.

Now citizens will have to pay for the city's misstep.

"Why should the city, the people of Rocky Ford have to pay for an administrative error, and people not following what they were supposed to?" KRDO NewsChannel 13's Colleen Sikora asked.

"I don't know what to tell you," Cox replied. "I didn't do it."

Cox said the mishandling of money happened under the previous city manager.

"I'm telling you right up front I cannot help what went on in the past," Cox said.

But Hosea said that's a poor excuse for her, and the rest of the city to have to pay more for the basic necessity of water.

"It feels like as a citizen I'm being held accountable for somebody else's mistakes," Hosea said.

Cox said the increase will be around for the duration of the 40- year loan.


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