The Helix Water District voted to raise prices for its customers after a heated public meeting Wednesday night.
The hearing drew a small but vocal crowd to the district’s headquarters in La Mesa.
On the agenda was a proposal to raise water rates 4.7 percent starting November 1 for the district’s service area which includes La Mesa, El Cajon, Lemon Grove, and parts of Spring Valley,
Lakeside and Santee.
The price hike would work out to just over $2 a month for an average user.
Customers told the board they were fed up with price hikes but the board members countered saying soaring water costs mean higher prices for residents and businesses.
“We conserve water and it doesn't matter because you raise it anyway,” said customer Caroline Smith. “When we do conserve water, you don't like it because you're not getting more money.”
Another customer complained that rate payers were footing the bill for the district’s pension plan.
“You've approved a benefits package that represents a transfer of wealth from ratepayers to Helix Water employees,” said customer Dick Malsbary.
The district said it's done its share of cost-cutting measures including laying off dozens of employees.
“I still think that we're doing the best job we can possibly do under the conditions that are there,” said director John Linden.