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The city of College Station trying to save residents from hardship

Posted at 9:00 AM, Jul 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-14 10:00:23-04

COLLEGE STATION — The city of College Station has proposed a city budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

So far, this proposal will not see a utility rate increase and struggling residents are happy to see it.

Earlier this year, the city of College Station was faced with a $48 million bill caused by power overcharges from February's winter storm.

Right now College Station is in pandemic recovery mode.

"I had missionaries I was going to work with in the Czech republic. It was going to be for a year. That year I was also going to be applying to grad schools so that when I came back, I could just go onto grad school take care of my business," said Alexis Besch, a College Station resident.

Besch graduated from Oklahoma in 2020 with a degree in psychology. After graduating she had big plans. But COVID derailed those plans bringing Besch to College Station.

"You can't really get many jobs with a psychology degree especially with COVID, so I worked at grocery stores, I worked at a daycare, I work at a café right now," added Besch.

Busch along with millions of Americans struggled to make ends meet.

Here in the Lone Star State, not only was the pandemic causing setbacks but so did the winter storm.

"$48,333,000 that is how much we actually paid out the door and that's for two pieces related to the storm," said Mary Ellen Leonard, the Director of Physical Services for the city.

The third aspect of that bill is known as an uplift charge. As of right now, the city is not required to cover any uplift fees but according to Leonard if any changes occur they may have to re-evaluate the budget.

The power grid's failure to provide a reliable source of power caused a frenzy well after the storm.

The city of College Station feared that they would need to raise utility rates to help cover the costs. But if approved, according to the budget they'll spare residents any more hardship.

"It's one disaster on top of another and everybody in the community is already having to deal with so much," Leonard added.

Residents like Besch are happy to hear they won't be impacted by higher bills.

"That will help me a lot honestly, I think that at this point I couldn't take any more of a raise of utilities or I couldn't take a raise of anything more, so I think that will end up helping my situation of trying to move forward and find a new job," explained Besch.

Residents can sign up to provide the City Council with feedback regarding the budget plan or attend the city's public hearing on July 27th.