The solution to severe debt in Fritch will cost its residents - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

The solution to severe debt in Fritch will cost its residents

Fritch, TX - Fritch has been financially under fire for the past few years. Recently, they tried using a water surcharge of $12.50 to help with their 9.7 million debt. The surcharge hasn't been generating enough revenue, so now officials are moving to raise water rates. 

"This is by far been the hardest job I've done," said Fritch city manager Steve McKay. 

Steve McKay says although being the city manager is satisfying, he took the job at a rough financial time. 

"I don't blame anybody for being upset for what happened the last few years. I think it's terrible what happened. All I want to do is fix it and make the town how it should be," said McKay. 

The city has been coping with an investigation into embezzlement charges by 9 former employees since 2013. McKay says the Texas Attorney General is investigating these former employees for allegedly stealing several hundreds of thousands of dollars from the city. 

Another financial woe is that the city has not been able to pay back two bonds, costing nearly $10 million. 

"Right now we're not bringing in enough money to pay for the bonds completely," said McKay. 

One option the city is looking at in order to raise revenue is to increase water rates to a flat fee of $45 per meter for all of it's customers. Residents inside city limits would pay $23 a month, while residents outside city limits would pay an extra $12 a month. 

McKay says he doesn't like the idea of raising rates for residents, but thinks the increase will help bring the city out of financial turmoil. 

"That's a lot of money for a small town. We're just going to have to take care of it and work. I know we open dialogue with the bind people and we have some experts helping us," said McKay. 

While it might take some time, McKay says the city will be on the right track once again. 

"There's no doubt in my mind Fritch is going to get back like it use to be and we're going to be a great town," said McKay. 

City leader will be meeting throughout August to continue working on their new budget of more than $2.3 million. If the council approves the increase, the new water rate will take effect in October. 

McKay says once the city is in better financial shape, the city would lower the water rate back to the original amount. 

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