Glades Utility Authority takeover close to being final

GUA takeover would cost PBC $25 million

BELLE GLADE, Fla. - Talks are underway for Palm Beach County to  take over the financially troubled Glades Utility Authority.

The system, which brings water to Belle Glade, Pahokee, and South Bay was hit hard by the closing of a state prison they counted on to be their largest customer.

The possibility of a takeover has been looming for months after South Bay decided not to enter into the county agreement.

Pahokee and Belle Glade already agreed to letting the county absorb the utility company.

It's a deal that would cost Palm Beach County taxpayers $25 million over the next 5 years to repair the trouble utility system.

Lillie Mosely says being a customer for the Glades Utility Authority is a "nightmare."

As a landlord she pays lots of utility bills.

"This water bill is far too expensive," she said.

Jessica Novak of Belle Glade feels the same way considering her utility bill this month was $139 and a notice told her the utility rates would be increasing on October 1st.

"Their rates are very high. They're not very flexible with you and they don't work with you," Novak said.

The two have different feelings though about Palm Beach County taking over the utility authority.

"I think that's pretty awesome if they're going to come in and fix stuff and if our rates are going to be lower than that's great," Novak said.

"I don't know whether that's a good idea because you get to a point where you don't trust them," Mosely said.

South Bay already gave preliminary approval of entering the deal, but is scheduled to give final approval with a resolution being passed at a meeting next Tuesday.

If approved next week, the move would make it so customers in Belle Glade, Pahokee and South Bay would have 8 years without a rate increase.

"That's awesome," Novak said. "I mean it's expensive enough as it is."

Administrators for the County say it would cost $25 million out of reserves over the next five years to repair the troubled system.

Lillie worries if the county takes this over what will they takeover next.

"Probably trying to get the city hood (from Belle Glade, South Bay and Pahokee), but I don't know whether that better for this community because they have not have not proven themselves before to lookout for the best interest of the citizens," Mosely said.

Only time will tell if that happens.

If South Bay approves a resolution next Tuesday, the county will absorb the utility authority and suspend a potential rate increase.

If not, utility customers will face an 6 percent rate increase.

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