Councilman says water rate hike is for employee compensation

- They say the only things certain in life are death and taxes, no one ever mentions climbing water rates. You've probably noticed your water bill going up in Phoenix, and one City Councilman has uncovered what he says is the real reason they are climbing.

"They're telling the public it is going for infrastructure when in fact it's really going to cover the costs of more money for employees," said Sal DiCiccio.

DiCiccio is on a one-man crusade to uncover waste at the City of Phoenix. He says the city is increasing water rates for department employees, many who moved to the department in 2010 when the city was claiming it cut 305 jobs to save money.

"They were out there telling the public this big lie, that they made all these cuts, what they didn't tell you is they moved all those employees over to the water department and then jacked up the rates to cover that, the same thing is happening again," he said.

This year the rates are going up 2.6% on average, and another 2% hike is expected next year. DiCiccio says the average compensation for an employee in the water department has gone from $76,000 in 2009 to over $88,000 in 2016.

The City of Phoenix says the rate increase provides funds to fix an aging system. Kathryn Sorensen is the Director of Water Services and says the rate increase is necessary.

"Without the employee costs, I still need to increase rates, and I need to do it because I need to rehabilitate our infrastructure. We estimate 24% of our water pipelines are behind their expected life," said Sorensen.

"Yeah, they may put money toward infrastructure, but what they're not telling you is this is really where the money is going to be going, because they need the money to pay for compensation," said DiCiccio.

DiCiccio says this isn't just a Phoenix issue. Many cities are basically imposing a tax on residents by raising water rates.

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