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Local park watering plan relies on Utilities fee increase

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Colorado Springs Utilities' city customers likely will see an increase in water bills next year to fund a boost in parks irrigation. Under a resolution City Council was expected to approve on May 22, after the Indy's press deadline, Utilities would increase rates in 2019 and beyond to yield a "surplus" to be transferred to the city. The rate hike would be phased in, with $1 million generated in 2019, and $2 million per year thereafter. In 2019, the monthly rate increase would be 34 cents for the typical residential customer, $1.30 for a commercial customer, and $14.77 for an industrial customer.

City administration asked for the funds. Councilors Don Knight, Andy Pico and Bill Murray opposed the increase during the May 16 Utilities Board meeting, with Knight saying he didn't want Utilities to become a cash cow for other operations. Councilor Jill Gaebler acknowledged that point but added, "Our parks benefit everybody. We saw the unintended consequences when we didn't take care of our parks." She was referring to cuts in 2008 that slashed the parks budget from $19 million to $3 million. Lack of watering has caused hundreds of trees to die.

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