The Missouri Public Service Commission heard from numerous area residents Wednesday evening giving comments concerning the proposed sewer rate increase filed by Raccoon Creek Utility Operating Company, an increase that aims to raise revenues for the company by $529,557, or about 351 percent.

A public hearing was held at the Thompson Conference Center on the State Fair Community College campus, starting with a question and answer session that lasted 75 minutes, followed by official testimony on the record that lasted around 105 minutes.

At issue is proposed rate increases for residents living in the Villages at Whiteman, South Walnut Hills and Woodland Lake Estates, and Hunter's Ridge Subdivision. Over 100 people attended the hearing. Residents who gave testimony were sworn in before each statement was made.

South Walnut Hills residents currently pay $38.12 per month for sewer service. The proposed increase would inflate that to $88.50. Hunters Ridge residents currently pay $26.42. The proposed increase would inflate that to $88.50. And residents at the Villages at Whiteman currently pay $23.48 for their monthly sewer service. The proposed increase would inflate that to $88.50.

That doesn't sit well with a majority of the residents who showed up to voice their opposition to the plan. Gary Noland of Hunters Ridge said it is a budget buster. “It was a total surprise to me that we needed a new plant. This is certainly overkill at its highest level,” Noland said.

“Good luck selling your property with a $1,200 sewer bill,” commented 24-year resident Clayton Morris of South Walnut Hills. He called the proposed increase “outrageous” and called out the Department of Natural Resources for not attending the hearing.

Todd Smith lives on Woodland Drive, part of 31 homes in that area. He called the flyer detailing problems with the system “misleading” and accused Raccoon of scaring residents into joining the WPC. “We donated the plant to him (Mr. Cox). It was free from us,” Smith said. “We never had a problem with the filtration system.”

Larry Foster of Hunters Ridge said the proposed increase was way too high. He also predicted another rate increase proposal will come along again soon.

John Brittain noted that the proposed increase was tremendous for those living in Whiteman Villages. “Raccoon Creek made a poor investment,” he said. “The responsibility ought not to be on me and all these others. I should not be punished for Racoon Creek's investment.”

Dean Byers was passionate in his testimony to the Commission, saying his neighbors are slowly moving away because of the situation. He called the proposed rate increase unreasonable.

Members of the Commission, William Kenney, Nancy Dippell and Maida Coleman patiently listened to each person testifying and gave them as much time as they needed to state their position on the proposed rate increase.

A decision on the proposal is to be made by Jan. 2, it was noted.

Members of the PSC staff, Office of Public Counsel and Raccoon Creek were present for the hearing.

For more information, or to leave a comment, go to www.psc.mo.gov or call PSC at 1-800-392-4122, toll free.