Residents angry over a 100% water rate increase in March have begun circulating recall petitions to oust Mayor Charles V. Smith and Councilmen Craig Schweisinger and Frank Fry Jr.
“A 100% water rate increase is ludicrous,” said Howard Jones, 62, who is spearheading the recall drive. “We can only stand so much taxes and stuff coming out of our pockets. If they keep going the way they are, it’s going to be tough” to continue to live in the city.
The councilmen have maintained their support of the controversial increase, saying the city can no longer afford to subsidize the rate, which was the lowest in the county.
In their written responses to the recall notice, they said that subsidizing the rate this year would force the city to shift more than $3 million from other city services, including police and fire, a contention that Councilwomen Joy L. Neugebauer and Lyn Gillespie dispute.
Jones said Wednesday that there is an “outstanding” chance of recalling all three men.
“We have the petitions and are beginning to circulate them,” he said. “We’re going to try for 10,000 (signatures for each). I don’t think were going to have any trouble getting them.”
According to the county registrar of voters, recall proponents have 120 days to get at least 6,614 signatures for each of the three targeted council members for the issue to be put before the voters.