Lake Contrary Sewer Bills Cause Headaches for Customers

By Alan Van Zandt |

Published 08/12 2014 10:53PM

Updated 08/13 2014 08:40AM

(LAKE CONTRARY, Mo.)  For many in Lake Contrary, sewer bills have reached a crisis level.

"They're going to shut our water off," said Linda Kretzer, a Lake Contrary resident for five years.

"After so many days, they're going to evict me out of my trailer and put me out on the street," said Pam Boeh, who is burdened with a $2,800 sewer bill that has built up over the past year.

When higher sewer bills stung water users in St. Joseph, Lake Contrary homeowners were hit even harder. Because they live outside of the city limits, they pay a higher premium to use the city's waste water system.

"If we could just pay what the city pays, which is a block away," Kretzer said.

"The city limits are a half mile down the road. It don't cost that much money to pump that water that far," said Wayne Wilson, a longtime Lake Contrary resident.

"You're just gouging us down here," said Boeh, referring to St. Joseph city leaders. "You're forcing us out of our homes that we own which is not right."

St. Joseph Public Works Director Jody Carlson says because Lake Contrary residents do not pay any St. Joseph city taxes, they haven't made an investment in the city's infrastructure.

In an agreement between the city and the Lake Contrary Sewer System, those who live in Lake Contrary pay 2.3 times what water users inside the St. Joseph city limits pay.

"It's something that's common in a lot of communities," Carlson said. "There are some communities that are lower but there are some that are even three or four times outside costs versus inside costs."

Carlson says the higher rates for those outside of the city are fair.

"If they wanted to annex into the community, it would be something different to become a part of St. Joe," he said. "Then, we could pull them in and they'd have the same multiplier with us. But it's something we are happy we can provide for them, but it comes at an additional cost because they are not part of the City of St. Joseph."

For those who live in Lake Contrary, they say the high sewer bills are threatening their way of life.

"My son's ready to sell his property because his sewer bill raised from $80 to $140 overnight," Wilson said.

St. Joseph Administrative Services recently told KQTV that city water users were $1.5 million behind in their sewer payments.

They said they had begun the process of sending out disconnection notices to those who were the most far behind in their payments.

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