A petition is now awaiting the Bowie City Council.
The city of Bowie approved utility rate increases in May, 2014. However, residents have filed a petition in opposition of those increases. The petition was turned in July 29.
It had 283 signatures for the proposed 2.5 percent water increase. And 271 signatures for the proposed 1.5 sewage water increase. Those hikes are for a three years time period each, meaning overall an 11 percent total utility increase.
The increase was brought forth on May 6, 2014. A second and final mention, and vote, was at a council meeting May 20th. The increases were approved, and published by May 24.
That was the day from which the petitioners had 30 days to come up with signatures. They needed 20 percent of the number of votes cast at the last regular municipal election. That number was 206.
After the collection of signatures, the petition was turned in July 29. That's 5 weeks after the initial 30 day deadline.
Now, city council will decided what they want to do with the petition. They have three different options. They can reject the petition, because it is after the 30 day deadline.
Or they can choose to rescind it or not. By not rescinding that would put the rate increases on the ballot, and allow residents take a vote within 30 days. By rescinding it they would cancel the increase, and continue with current rates. City officials said the rate increases are necessary for the city.
"Well I mean it's our wastewater, last year we took on a five dollar increase, even with that and even with the projected increases that we're looking at we're still at an $80,000 shortfall on the waste water," said Ricky Tow, Bowie City Manager.
The city has not raised water rates for 14 years, according to Tow. The lack of increases is costing the city in the possibility of grants.
The state wants to see cities putting the burden on residents, said Tow. This is an attempt to get more money from within the city, while showing the state that the city is trying to generate funds, according to Tow.
"So we're trying to do something that shows that we have burdened the locals to be eligible for some of these grants and stuff that are out there," said Tow. "So we're trying to get money at the same token."
If the city council does not accept the petition the rate increases will begin October 1, 2014. The City Council will meet August 5 to discuss the petition, and decide whether or not to take action. The meeting is 6 p.m. at the Downtown Community Room.