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Abilene City Council members discuss possible water bill fee

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ABILENE, Texas - Your water bill might be going up again.

The Abilene City Council is looking at adding a fee to your water bill to pay for street maintenance.

They tackled that issue at a workshop Tuesday night.

"It's scary," said Marian Whitehurst, and Abilene resident. She's on a fixed income and said she didn't see any increase in her social security check for 2016.

"I think Abilene needs to figure out another way to keep our streets maintained," Whitehurst said. "I just can't pay anymore for a water bill."

Assistant City Manager James Childers said it's just an idea at this point. City leaders are waiting on a study to come back next spring to tell them just how bad the roads really are and how much it would cost to fix them.

"It's a tool in the tool box," Childers said. "It'd be remiss if we didn't look at every option to fund critical infrastructure needs."

Voters passed a $45 million bond project in May of 2015 for roadwork. Childers said that was for total reconstructions of road. He said this proposed fee would be to maintain roads and extend their lifetimes.

"So the idea is the more investment you make on the front end, the more you save on the back end," Childers said.

Seven other Texas cities have passed similar road maintenance fees. Childers said they average about $5 to $10 dollars a month.

"I just would like to see them find some alternatives besides costing us more money," said Whitehurst.

Two people spoke against the fee at Tuesday night's workshop. While one man said he would support the fee if it could only be used for street repairs, had a sunset provision and was approved by voters. City council members agreed plenty of education and discussion is still necessary and said the soonest we could see a vote on this issue is about a year from now.

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