(02/15/13) - A hearing was held Friday morning to determine if the City of Flint illegally raised water rates.
Flint residents have seen water and sewer bill double over the past two years.
A lawsuit, filed by Flint City Council President Scott Kincaid and three others, maintains the increases violate state law. They want the money refunded.
Circuit Judge Richard Yuille is hearing the case.
Attorney Val Washington, who is representing Kincaid and the others, says state law doesn't allow money raised by water and sewer fees to be spent for other city expenses. The money can only be used within the water and sewer department.
"The city is illegally spending the water and sewer payments. That's the problem. It's not that the rates were increased that's the issue. The increase was done so they could continue to pour the money into the pooled cash account and pay the general expenses as they come due," Washington said.
Assistant city attorney John Postulka says accountants have examined the city's spending and found nothing wrong with putting water and sewer money into the general fund. He says the city is not legally obligated to issue a refund, and the money is needed to keep the city running.
"There's a $24 million deficit based on water and sewer funds because they were not charged at a sufficient rate for years. They probably should have raised rates years ago, but they didn't. They decided not to and now we have a $24 million deficit that has to be made up, and that's what these increases are about," Postulka said.
Judge Yuille closed the hearing and will make a decision at a later time.
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