1,270 sign petition opposing water rate increase

About 1,270 people have signed Mayor Jim Newberry's online petition opposing Kentucky American Water's proposed 37 percent increase on residential water bills, his spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Newberry, who announced the petition effort Friday afternoon, called the rate request "excessive and unacceptable."

He was immediately criticized by Vice Mayor Jim Gray and former Mayor Teresa Isaac because Newberry had supported construction of a new $162 million treatment plant and pipeline that Kentucky American says is the reason it needs more money. Gray and Isaac oppose Newberry in the May mayoral primary.

Skip Horine, the fourth candidate in the race, said later that the petition drive on the city's Web site gives people only the option of saying they oppose the increase, not whether they would like to occasionally do without water because of shortages.

"It would be nice if both sides of this issue were represented on the city's Web site fairly, and an accurate non-biased response was sought from the public," Horine said.

Susan Straub, Newberry's spokeswoman, said that if people want to support a rate increase, there are other avenues to contact the mayor.

The petition is at www.lexingtonky.gov/justtoomuch.

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