Columbia electric rate increase proposal voted down

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COLUMBIA – The price of electricity won't be going up for now.

The Columbia City Council struck down an electricity rate increase at its meeting Monday night.

The 1 percent increase was defeated 6-1, with Councilman Michael Trapp being the only yes vote.

“The electric utility increase is necessary to pay for operational expenses and needed capital investments,” Trapp said in a statement sent to KOMU 8 News. “Delaying them will require steeper rate increases in the future and risk the City’s bond rating. Even with the rate increase, we are projected to fall short of our financial targets for reserves.”

Residents were split on the council's decision.

Kathy Jones said people can barely afford to pay their electric bill at current rates. 

"I live in a townhouse, so my electric bill is high and I still have to take care of a child," Jones said. "I don't want to have to pay the electric bill but not pay another bill just to make sure I have electric on for my child."

Alyssa Worland said any rate increases should start small like the defeated proposal was.

"If Columbia is starting to grow more and the city needs more money to keep up with roads and whatnot, then they should reevaluate every year about the cost and not set a fixed increase each year," Worland said.

Water and Light staff said the increase was necessary to “address operation and maintenance cost and to maintain cash reserve levels,” according to a council memo.

As part of the budget approved Monday, the city council approved other rate increases, including a 4 percent hike on water and a 5 percent increase on sewer utility.