Metropolitan District Commission customers in the greater Hartford area told Eyewitness News they were upset when they opened up their water bills this month and in some cases, their payments were tripled.
A public hearing, which was packed with customers, was held Wednesday night so MDC officials could discuss the recent changes.
"In January, my bill was $56.10," said MDC customer Ed Fournier, of Glastonbury. "In May, it went to $175.62."
About 9,000 customers who live in parts of Glastonbury, South Windsor, Farmington, East Granby, Windsor Locks and Portland are considered non-members and they will now have to pay more, according to MDC officials.
Member towns have paid for treatment plants, reservoir and delivery system improvements. The MDC officials said the water system was built in the 1920s and rehabbed in the 1960s.
The member towns already paid for those improvements, so the rate increase Fournier and thousands of other customers are seeing is the MDC's way of catching up and creating an equal playing field.
"There may be a better way to roll it out, there may be a better time to pay the amount we feel is fairly due," said Chris Stone, who is the MDC spokesman.
MDC officials said they wanted to make it clear that these astronomical bills won't be permanent, but they'll last for at least three more years.
"They're the fox in the henhouse, they can do whatever they want," said James Lacroix, of Glastonbury.
MDC officials said they are considering the option of extending that time frame to make the quarterly bills easier to digest, but for bill payers like Fournier, he said he is still not buying it.
"If they can justify it to me, we'll pay it," Fournier said. "But then again, we don't have much choice, do we?"
MDC officials said they sent a letter, which is posted on its website, to their customers to inform about the changes.
"I'd like to know what happened during these years? Why is it spiking now?" Lacroix asked.
Eyewitness News took that question right to MDC officials to find out why people are seeing the spike now instead of when their town first joined MDC.
"We had meetings with our ratings agency, as we were going through the budgets, advice from our bond council, auditors on charges that we could recoup," Stone said.
The MDC is considering "stretching" out the number of years people pay them. A vote on next year's water rates is expected in the weeks to come
For more information about bill questions concerning non-member MDC customers, click here.
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