Fort Smith Residents Outraged Over Sewage Bill Increase

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FORT SMITH (KFSM) – It was a heated town hall meeting in Fort Smith Tuesday (Feb. 3) night as sewer rates are expected to triple over the next 12 years to fund repairs to the sewage system.

Residents expressed their outrage after the City Board of Directors meeting.

“You will rob us of our money by utility extortion,” one resident said before the board.

The sewer rate increase would cover the costs needed to bring the city into compliance with the federal Clean Water Act after the Environmental Protection Agency alleged Fort Smith broke several aspects of the law. Environmental officials said the city experiences sewage overflow during episodes of heavy rainfall because of the decades-old sanitation system.

The City Board of Directors came to an agreement with the EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice to spend $200 million over the next 12 years to repair its sewage system.

“We don’t have much of a choice. This was something we had to make a decision on,” Fort Smith City Director Keith Lau said. “We entered in a consent decree and a certain program for capital improvements and for maintenance of our sewer lines.”

Lau said sewage bills will spike, but it’s not clear yet if water rates will go up too.

“The sewer portion of the bill is going to go up but not necessarily the water part, so we are researching that right now,” Lau said. “We’ve got an engineering firm that’s doing an analysis for us so that hasn’t been set yet as far as the total increase.”

City directors said they’re expecting the study on how much the rates will actually go up to be completed soon.

9 comments

  • Flossie Cox

    Why don’t they use the money they are blowing to bring in more business and tourists so that when anyone comes in they want to stay. As far as i am concerned the board was fined because they have sat on their laurels and just ignored the problem and never fixed it so let them pay the fine. Then vote the incompents out,

  • Sean

    Fort Smith is run like the inbred cousins of the Corleone mob family except the Corleones MADE money, these jack wagons are headed straight for a class action lawsuit, and are going to end up costing us even more when they lose that too.

  • mike

    The money spent on that giant library, civic center
    water park, riverfront park. Would have fixed the problem and paid the fine.

  • RegulateThis

    The government of Fort Smith has been a disgrace for at least 50 years. The town is controlled by old history buffs and the incompetent board members have been negligent since at least the 1960’s.

    Fact 1 – Fort Smith will never be the historic destination these old clowns think it will.

    Fact 2 – Fort Smith is a smaller version if Detroit and that’s attributable to a liberal-thinking city government (feel-good politics and horrible decisions but, hey, it buys votes)

    Fact 3 – The citizens are being punished for 50 years of bad decisions by city government members. This is utterly disgraceful that they can pseudo-govern without repercussions…we feel the repercussions not them.

    Anyone else would be immediately fired for this. Instead, these board members weasel their way in with the people and get voted in time and time again.

  • peoples voice

    Where is the video? I have tried all morning to watch it because during the viewing of the live board meeting on ustream the video would black out. This morning I had the worst time trying to view it on 5news and now I can’t find the video at all.

  • Chester

    You birds in FS are in a heep of do do. You may as well dig deeper into your pockets, cause you are going to pay for the years of neglect. When you start feeling sad, just go to the new $50,000,000 Marshals museum, and use their new bathroom facilities.

  • Jerry's Kids

    How about instead of spending 50 million on that stupid Marshall’s museum and 12 million on a water park for Mexicans….maybe fix the sewage problem instead of stealing everyone’s money? Oh well, I sure didn’t vote for Kevin Settle and co.

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