By Jeff Todd

WESTMINSTER, Colo. (CBS4) – A water rate increase in Westminster has some residents outraged.

“We all know we live in the high plains of Colorado, it is dry here, and without water, no, it’s not green,” said Bruce Baker.

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(credit: CBS)

The rate increase would be put toward $120 million in improvement projects. The City of Westminster is proposing a net-average 10 percent increase to water rates.

For about 88 percent of the city that means an increase of about $11 a month. But for people like Bruce Baker the increase is crippling.

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CBS4’s Jeff Todd interviews Bruce Baker. (credit: CBS)

“In July, I used 61,000 gallons of water.  I paid a bill of $477 dollars. That same bill in 1999 was $207. And if this rate goes through if I use the same 61,000 gallons I will have to pay about $720,” Baker said.

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(credit: CBS)

Baker is a former city councilor and is now running for a house seat against a current city councilor. He also admits he uses a lot of water for his large lot in the northern stretches of the city.

“We like the flowers. Not only do they add something to us, but they add something to our neighborhood. I think the neighbors like the flowers as they drive by,” he said.

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(credit: CBS)

About 30 people spoke against the rate increase on Monday night at a city council meeting. The rate increase was approved and faces a second reading and approval on Oct. 8.

One city official says the rate increase means large water users will pay their fair share. Baker says it’s an astronomical rate compared to other water utilities in the area.

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(credit: CBS)

“A lot of other people in Westminster have dreams and their dreams are in their house and in their flowers and in their green grass. And this is going to dry the city out,” he said.

Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.

Comments (2)
  1. Dave Buehmann says:

    Thank you for running this story. A few important points:
    1) The city did not notify any residents about this proposed change. No official notices were sent. I heard about it 1 day before the council meeting. The city clearly tried to hide this tax hike.
    2) Residents with 1/2 acre or more will pay 4x more per gallon than other residents and more than businesses. No other utility or taxing authority gouges customers like this
    3) The council room was packed. Many complained about no notices. The room was unanimously against the hikes, judging from the applause. If the entire city had been notified, there would have been massive protests.
    4) The city misstated material facts.

    I hope you will follow up with the full story.

    Thank you.

  2. Rick Mayo says:

    The city notified homeowners, I recall it being discussed for months, I have no idea what people claim they didn’t. The city even posted it online on social media sites where it has been discussed. Unfortunately City Councils for the past few decades failed to increase the rates soon enough to adequately fund a water infrastructure reserve fund, they all kicked the can down the road. Past Council members have come out objecting to this increase, but THEY were part of the problem. The one councilor who voted Monday to kick the can down the road, again, should be ashamed of themselves.

    No resident likes higher costs, but most of us have become accustomed to clean water and a working sewer system. If we would have all been paying a couple dollars more every month for the past few decades, we wouldn’t be in this bind now. As the saying goes, pay me now or pay me later. Long time residents, such as myself, should have been funding this all along.

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