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Tempers flare in Ammon public hearing on water bills

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Ammon City Council members gave up their chairs during Thursday’s crowded public hearing. | Mike Price, EastIdahoNews.com

AMMON — Emotions ran hot as people angry over their water bills crowded into the City Council chambers and spilled out into the fire station next door for Thursday’s public hearing.

There was even mention of a possible recall election if water rates weren’t made more affordable.

“I employ this council to truly listen to the citizens and the petitions,” Ammon resident Arlene Coon said during the meeting. “If they can’t do this … there’s been a lot of talk about a recall.”

Coon is one of the people behind circulating a petition that received more than 1,000 signatures asking the city council to make the water rates more affordable. She gave that petition, with the signatures, to Mayor Sean Coletti.

“A lot of people, up until this time when we’ve got water meter, have spent a lot of money getting their yards the way they want it, and now they can’t continue it,” Dick Bybee told the city leaders.

At one point, a group tried to get the meeting moved to a new location because there wasn’t enough room for everyone to see and hear.

“We ought to move this to a school and redo this meeting,” one person standing outside the chambers said. “We can hardly hear what you’re saying back here.”

Coletti declined the suggestion to move the meeting to another location and offered to provide any information people were not able to hear to them after the meeting ended.

RELATED: Ammon residents express frustration over water bills

“Do you know how many public meetings that we’ve held? How many of those seven were you at?” Councilman Brian Powell asked the people trying to get the meeting moved.

The City Council offered to hold another meeting and go over the same information for those that weren’t able to hear but asked that Thursday’s meeting be allowed to continue.

Unhappy with that suggestion, those outside the chambers continued to try and have the meeting moved until Councilman Russell Slack suggested the council members give up their chairs so everyone could sit inside the chambers.

One of the main issues those in attendance raised was that after they cut down their water usage, their bills did not go down.

Coletti said that likely means there is a leak or crack in their water system. He encouraged citizens to come in and review their water usage with the city.

Slack said the water metering system is accurate enough to tell when someone flushes a toilet. He said if they come in to review their water usage after turning off all running water and their water usage does not drop to zero, it means there is a leak somewhere in their system.

The council did not make any decisions and only listened to and answered questions during the meeting. Coletti said they would take the petition to lower the water rate “into consideration.”

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