Water rate increases decried as Westminster OKs budget

Westminster has a new budget for the next 12 months, and it’s one city leaders hope will start to pull the city from its financial difficulties. The mayor and the council last night faced a standing room audience, many of whom were rate payers who blistered the elected leaders about projected water rate increases that could total about 50%. Mayor Brian Ramey, however, took issue with the 50% figure, saying that should the first of three water rate increases prove sufficient to bolster revenues the others won’t be needed. Ramey and City Administrator Chris Carter explained that the loss of a $500 thousand dollar water sale contract with Pioneer Rural Water and the needs to award city workers a three percent pay raise and update the electric power system have landed the city in a precarious financial situation. Judy Kelley, a utility customer, was among those who believe that the first of three water rate increases, around 20-25% and timed to take effect next month, is too much and will hurt those customers who are least able to pay. Two Westminster business and property owners, Fred Bland and Keith Denny, asked the elected leaders to keep in mind that a good way toward prosperity is to help nurture existing and new business.