City of Fritch faces another financial setback - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

City of Fritch faces another financial setback

Fritch, TX - The City of Fritch's plan to increase revenue after past city employees stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in city funds is backfiring.

Back in January, the the city added a $12 surcharge to the water bills of customers who live in and outside city limits. Although the surcharge has been a money-maker for the city, it may end up costing them thousands of dollars.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) said the city did not properly notify more than one thousand outside city-limit customers about the water surcharge. A petition was sent to the TCEQ by an outside customer to look into the issue. "I can't vote in the City of Fritch, but I live outside city limits and I got an increase in my bill without any representation whatsoever," explained the resident who sent the petition.

"We were not aware that outside customers needed to be individually notified by mail that we were increasing, what TCEQ said was increasing rates," explained Interim City Manager John Horst. "It is a surcharge. It does not affect the cost per thousand gallons at all. But TCEQ interprets that differently as a water rate increase."

The TCEQ is now requiring the city pay back the last seven months worth of surcharges to outside customers, which adds up to a hefty sum of money. "About $84,000," said Horst. "Which we don't have."

The city doesn't have the money because they already used the surcharge revenue to pay off debt. Horst appealed the refund and suggested three other options for the TCEQ to consider instead. "To excuse this notification of omission was my first one, number two was to defer it for two years, and number three was to refund it at $5 a month."

On Tuesday, the Fritch City Council voted on an ordinance officially dubbing the $12 surcharge as a rate increase for outside customers. This time around, the city is prepared to notify customers properly so they don't lose out on even more money.

"If we have to refund, at least this way we'll have the revenue coming in to do it with," said Horst.

Horst expects an answer from the TCEQ about his surcharge refund appeal in the first two weeks of September.

Madison Alewel - NewsChannel 10
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  • Madison Alewel

    Madison Alewel

    Madison anchors the 4, 6, 9 and 10 p.m. newscasts. She joined NewsChannel10 as a reporter in October 2013.

    Madison anchors the 4, 6, 9 and 10 p.m. newscasts. She joined NewsChannel10 as a reporter in October 2013.

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