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High Bills Surge In Small Town After Gov. Perry’s Water Veto

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TARRANT COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) - People in Blue Mound say they’re paying higher water bills after Gov. Perry’s veto of a bill that would have made it easier for the city to gain control of its water system.

Water hoses are rolled up and sprinklers are turned off in the small city just outside of Fort Worth. Residents are turning to the sky for the answers on how to pay their water bills.

“I got three of them here; collected in buckets and i just collect the water off the roof and it fills them up real quick,” said Rick McNeely, who has resorted to collecting rain drops to water his yard.

The McNeely’s aren’t wealthy, and according to Debbie McNeely, “It’s really frustrating to pay that much for water.”

A water shortage isn’t the problem in Blue Mound. The wells in the town are nearly full. The problem is cost. Resident Jose Munoz says he pays more for water than he does for electricity.

“The bills come in so high,” said Munoz.

It’s a reality faced by most residents, who often pay three times as much for water as their neighbors across the street — who live in Fort Worth. People are moving out of Blue Mound, according to Mayor Alan Hooks, due to high water costs.

“We had a fire sale. We had 30 to 40 houses that were vacant at one time,” said Hooks.

The city has tried to buy the water system from the Monarch Utilities, a private company that provides the town’s water. But all of its offers were denied thus far. Citing pending litigation with the city, Monarch Utilities told CBS 11 it couldn’t comment on its rates. Blue Mound did however, approve the latest rate hike last year. But according to Hooks, Monarch Utilities was its only option.

“Water is a necessity and I just don’t think someone should gauge you for water.”

The explanation given by Gov. Perry’s office for vetoing the bill was that it would “provide disincentive for development by private utilities.”

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