Big Timber residents begin adjusting to higher water bills

The bill for a home in Big Timber using 10,000 gallons of water went up by about 57 percent following new rate hikes last month, and now some customers are adjusting their budgets and water usage.

Sherry Mosness of Big Timber said her water bill more than doubled from June to July, and she worried that rate increases would affect people living on a fixed income.

“I live on social security and I get $946.10 a month,” Mosness said. “And that doesn’t go very far.”

Roberta Kelley, also of Big Timber, agreed that rising water bills would have the biggest impact on people who depend on social security. But she also worried that without irrigation the flowers and landscaping around town would die.

The American Legion decided to stop paying for advertisements on the radio and in the Pioneer because of the rate increases. Dan Smart, the Legion’s finance officer, said the bar also downgraded its TV package. But overall the rate increases weren’t as drastic as he expected. 

“We knew it was coming and we started planning,” Smart said. “I had anticipated it doubling, and it didn’t.”   

He said the water bill increased by more than $180 between May and July. Although, part of that was because of watering the lawn more frequently during the summer. The Legion now waters the lawn four days a week, rather than every day, to try and reduce the water bill.

At the Aug. 7 city council meeting, councilman Justin Ferguson said it wasn’t fair to compare water bills from June and July. He said it would be better to compare the July 2017 bill with the July 2016 bill because people tend to irrigate more during July. Councilman Daniel Thomasson added that customers should compare their current rates with other cities in Montana. 

For more of this story, pick up a copy of this week’s Big Timber Pioneer on newsstands now, or subscribe online at bigtimberpioneer.net.

PHOTO CAPTION: The price data comes from a 2016 Montana Department of Commerce Report about utilities and the city of Big Timber. (Graph by MATT BLOIS / Big Timber Pioneer)

By MATT BLOIS / Big Timber Pioneer

 

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