Canton seniors reach boiling point over water bills

Close to 75 people attended a public forum Tuesday evening in Canton.

Residents at a Canton senior housing complex have reached their boiling point with the city.

Close to 75 people attended a public forum Tuesday evening, at the Methodist Church of Canton, to discuss their concerns about the city's recent decision to up their water bills.

Since last July, residents at Canton Senior Housing have had to cope with higher rent to incorporate those higher water bills. The city discovered a loop hole in a 1973 ordinance last year that said it could charge each residential unit in the city, including those in senior housing, for a separate water meter.

Right now, there are 79 units at the Canton Senior Housing, all of which get their water from three water meters on site. But the city has said they must pay what it would cost as if they each had their own meter.

The complex was originally paying $16,000 a year for its water. Now it's paying more than $40,000, and it's coming out of the residents' pockets.

Many of these residents are living off of 8 to 9 thousand dollars a year and spending about $300 a month on rent. This water hike will take out an additional $700 of their income.

Darlean Mohr is the manager at Canton Senior Housing. She says this is a problem the city should have to make up for on its own, without targeting seniors who can't afford the higher costs.

"They broke the rules. Why now do they have to come and target these people," Mohr said.

Click here

to read a letter from Mohr.

Mayor Jarrod Phillips says he does not know why the city did not enforce this ordinance the last 40 years. He says he understands the seniors' frustrations, but says the city will make sure the ordinance is equally enforced with everyone in the community, regardless if they live in their own home or in a senior living complex.

"This applied to over 160 different addresses in the city of Canton, of which Canton Senior Housing was 48 percent of those impacted. So it wasn't targeting Canton Senior Housing specifically. It had nothing to do with age. It had to do with enforcement of the existing ordinance," Phillips said.

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