'Gigantic mistake' leads Georgetown to ask people to pay 61% more for water

Posted at 6:43 AM, Nov 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-29 09:29:34-05

GEORGETOWN, Ky. (LEX 18) — People in Georgetown are being asked to pay increased water and sewage fees as the result of a “gigantic mistake.”

For nearly four hours, city leaders and residents discussed a city water and sewage service proposal to increase their water fees by 61% over the next two years.

A motion that would postpone a vote on the rate increase until January—when new city council members and a mayor take office—failed in a 4-4 tie. Instead, as scheduled, Monday’s council meeting included a first reading of the proposal. A final vote would be set for a few weeks from now.

Mayor Tom Prather had argued any delay in their decision would result in ultimately higher fees.

Council members were greeted by a packed house at Monday’s meeting, with many there to speak against the water fee proposal.

“I don’t think that we should be having to increase our water [fees] and [be forced to] choose between eating or taking a shower and washing our clothes,” said one woman who spoke up at the meeting. Another person said it’s not that they won’t pay for the increase, it’s that they can’t pay.

The increase is necessary because of two large “gigantic” mistakes that contractors/engineers the city was working with had made, Prather said.

“I really have no words to describe how we’re feeling about the errors made here by reputable consultants that have impacted us in this way,” said Chase Azevedo, the General Manager of the Georgetown Municipal Water and Sewer Service

During public comment, people who spoke asked the city government to look outside the box, including delaying the increase by a year, spreading out the increases, asking for help from county and state government, and to downsize a local horse festival to help offset water costs.

“There are no other options on the table, this is absolutely essential,” Prather said before the meeting. “It must be done and it is extremely painful.”

Prather said delaying the increase would just push the total cost higher. He added they are planning to sue those responsible, but caution it could take years until they receive money back. If the bills aren’t paid soon, it could be catastrophic, Prather said.

“We’re willing to take extreme steps to recover your money,” Prather said.