MLGW board approves water rate increase, salary increases - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

MLGW board approves water rate increase, raise to employee salaries

MLGW's water rates may soon be on the rise, along with salaries paid to the utility's 2,600 employees. MLGW's water rates may soon be on the rise, along with salaries paid to the utility's 2,600 employees.

(WMC-TV) - MLGW's water rates may soon be on the rise, along with salaries paid to the utility's 2,600 employees.

Thursday, the MLGW board voted unanimously to raise water rates by five percent. However, officials insist that increase is not meant to pay for a one percent salary bump the board voted to give employees.

Rather, according to the utility, the pay hike was the result of negotiations with a labor union that represents most MLGW workers. The board decided to apply the raise to all employees except the president.

Meanwhile, the water rate will rise in an attempt to avoid losing money in the water division, due in part to the rising cost of pumping water from underground wells.

Those reasons were lost to some customers Friday who were struggling to pay their utility bills.

"I'm just one person in the house and pay 300 or 400 dollars," MLGW customer Brett Poe said. "That's high to me."

"You've got people that don't have jobs at all," customer Kennedy Fitzpatrick added. "Like me, my job just downsized and I'm working three days a week. And do they want to hear that? No, they want their money!"

There's a chance the salary increase in particular may not go over well at Memphis City Hall. Both it and the rate increase are part of a budget the City Council must approve.

If passed, the five percent water rate hike will go into effect in January.

Memphis City Council Chairman Myron Lowery and his colleagues cut the salaries of city employees this past summer.  Lowery admitted some on the council may want to sink any increase for utility employees.

"I could see people saying the council cut city employees, and now they're giving a raise to MLGW," said Lowery.

Lowery said the city and MLGW are different entities with different budgets.  Unlike the city, Lowery assumes the utility can afford the increase.

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