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Rawlings-Blake, City Leaders Approve Water Rate Increase

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- City homeowners and businesses will see a spike in their water bills to the tune of 15 percent. City leaders say they need to repair the aging pipes and water mains.

But, as Gigi Barnett explains, customers aren't ready to pay up.

"You can't make everyone happy and have major reform at the same time," said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

So the city is moving forward on its double-digit water and sewage hike. The city's Board of Estimates green-lit the increase Wednesday.

The city says it needs millions to fix its aging underground pipes, which burst often, causing water to flow for days.

Mayor Rawlings-Blake says she knows the increase is going to upset customers.

"If it means ruffling feathers in order to get our city back to a place where we can grow again I'll take that," she said.

This week, city auditors recommended only raising rates by 13 percent, but instead the board approved a 15 percent jump for this year. In 2015 and 2016, customers will fork out 11 percent more.

"It is quite an increase and I think it people will have a lot to say about it," said homeowner James Laucht.

Laucht says at a time when living expenses are going up across the country, this isn't the time to raise rates.

"That little increase, along with everything else, isn't necessary," he said.

Other neighbors say their hands are tied.

"It's a lot. We can't stop them from raising everything," said homeowner Charles Greene.

City Comptroller Joan Pratt and Council President Jack Young were the only two votes against the rate hike.

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