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Hurricane Michael repairs causing utility bill spike in Quincy

Posted at 4:20 AM, Jul 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-23 04:47:51-04

QUINCY, Fla. (WTXL) — Quincy Mayor Pro-Tem Ronte Harris wants to clear the air about the utility spike in Quincy.

He sat down with WTXL about a week after we reported the city's decision to raise utility rates which doubled the bills for some families.

After seeing a spike in their utility bills, Quincy neighbors are asking why.

Mayor pro-tem Ronte Harris bringing answers saying it's to make up for lost revenue from utility repairs following Hurricane Michael.

"We didn't have a reserve that could handle the 3 million dollar bill that we incurred after Hurricane Michael," said Mayor Harris.

Now neighbors are helping pay that off through an added fee in utility rates but that fee also aims to strengthen Quincy for future natural disasters.

"It takes care of what we didn't do in the past, that's the hardening of our system. After this particular fee sunsets in about 4 years, we will have a 2 million dollar reserve," said Mayor Harris.

This will put money in place for future recovery and power outage costs.

Vivian Howard, says the city should have cut its budget rather than adding fees for neighbors like herself.

"Can't afford a 500 dollar utility bill. If you've got children, you're getting ready to go back to school, what are they supposed to do? So now either we don't have medicine, we don't have food, we don't have clothes. Which thing do you want me to give up," said Howard?

Hurricane Michael, along with these added fees, came after the commission approved a budget which included giving themselves pensions and health insurance, and giving raises to city employees.

"Our employees deserve a raise, and it was in our budget so there's no fat in the budget. When you're cutting 3 million dollars from a budget you're talking about eliminating your police, your fire and your public works," said Mayor Harris.

A decision that Howard wishes had come at a different time.