MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (WDVM) — Martinsburg City Council has voted to raise water rates by 16 percent.
The vote was 5 to 2 to raise the rates. This was encouraged by the city finance director who said it has been seven years since the last rate hike, more revenue is needed to comply with legal requirements, bond payments need to be met, four new hires are needed and capital projects are in need of funding.
But opponents say with the COVID-19 pandemic, now is not the time to be raising rates.
“With everything going on around us maybe we should revisit this,” says Councilwoman Harriett Johnson, one of the two no votes on the proposed rate hike. “I was for a minimum amount and we could revisit this next year when things can be different.”
Martinsburg resident Clement Powell weighed in.
“I don’t think that’s something we should be voting on right now with the crisis, the pandemic,” he says. “Just let people get settled, make up what we have to make up.”
Councilwoman Johnson, a candidate for mayor on the July ballot, says that while Berkeley County has been growing steadily, the city of Martinsburg’s population has held steady and residents just cannot absorb a rate hike on their water bills.
Despite her opposition, and that of Councilman Jason Baker, the rate hike will take effect this summer.