The new interim city manager in Kennedale has requested that an outside consultant review the need for a drastic water/sewer rate hike a year ago that galvanized a political movement.
The rate increase doubled the cost of basic water and sewer service, while residents with larger or multiple water meters complained of bills that tripled.
City officials, including outgoing City Manager Bob Hart, said the revenues were needed for an emergency sewer pipe repair and other utility infrastructure improvements.
Upset residents have fielded three candidates to challenge City Council members who are up for re-election May 6. The newcomers question the cost of the sewer line repair and demand more transparency in utility and other projects planned by the Kennedale Economic Development Corp.
Some city leaders counter that the challengers are bent on stunting growth in the city.
Hart left Kennedale in late January after 10 years to become city manager in the Denton County city of Corinth.
The City Council hired George Campbell, a former Arlington city manager, as interim manager while the city conducts a search for a permanent replacement.
Campbell praised the city’s management and financial stability in a letter to the community, posted on the city’s website. But he decided an outside review was needed for the water issue, which he said “generated many excellent and legitimate questions.”
“For that reason, I have authorized a comprehensive analysis by Government Resource Associates (GRA), industry experts, to evaluate our utility fund and the need for these additional revenues,” he wrote. “GRA’s analysis will provide us with an objective assessment of our utility rate structures and suggest options for future policy considerations. The city will share the results of this work with you as quickly as possible.”