Tonight, residents in Richland County took center stage as they vocally opposed a proposed water rate increase from Palmetto Utilities.
Palmetto Utilities had to add an extra meeting to the originally two scheduled, just to accommodate everyone who wanted to attend.
"What are you going to do, to show evidence to justify why you're raising our rates," one customer asked.
Under the proposed increase, rates would be going up about 28%, moving the flat rate from around $52 to just under $67. That means whether you have a full family, or live alone, you'll be paying the same.
"I'm the only one that lives in my household," said Palmetto Utilities customer Edward Buggs. "Why should I be paying the same rate as five people? If you're going to make money, you've got to please the consumers."
Palmetto Utilities reps say they were approved for a rate increase in 2017 but didn’t get the full hike they requested. They say this increase is necessary to offset those expenses, and to cover multi-million dollar improvement investments.
"It's kind of like catch up," said Mark Dayday from Palmetto Utilities. "Plus they're some certain expenses since the last rate case that we had in normal capital spending. Plus a million dollars in property taxes. Our property taxes bill went up."
But customers say, if they aren't using more, they shouldn't be paying more.
We asked reps from the company if getting these rate hikes approved would help prevent more increases in the near future.
"We think we can stay out for five plus years, maybe longer," Dayday said. "Hate to commit to anything, because you don't know what inflation going to be, you don't know what your electric bill is going to be tomorrow."
The final decision on the proposal will come down to the Public Service Commission, but many residents say they don't want to get their hopes up.
"I do not feel that the Public Service Commission has the consumer's interest at heart," said customer Mamie Cowser.
Another meeting is scheduled tomorrow night at 6pm at Lake Carolina Elementary School.