RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — At the moment, the city of Riviera Beach is divided. On one side is the utility district, which is primarily made up of the city council. On the other side of this dispute is Councilman Tradrick McCoy.
"We haven't even recovered as an economy, much less as a city," he said.
McCoy said during a Sept. 6 board meeting, the district approved a rate hike of 30% over the next five years. He argues the district passed the increase without providing proper notice to residents beforehand.
"It forced me to file a complaint for an injunction to stop this from taking place and also to declare it unlawful," he said.
City Manager Jonathan Evans said the increase is about raising money. He said their current water plant has just five to10 years left.
"The utility district here has significant infrastructure challenges," Evans said. "The system that we're utilizing right now to treat our water is an aging, archaic system."
Evans said the city is pursuing a bond issuance of anywhere between $75-$120 million to build a water treatment plant.
"We have to move forward with 6% increases over the next five years to be able to position ourselves to move forward with the application process and, ultimately, the funding," Evans said.
According to the city, residents of Riviera Beach are currently paying $69.21 for water and sewage combined, while those who live in West Palm Beach are at $77.23 and in Lake Worth Beach at $82.
McCoy said the time is wrong.
"I'm going to get criticism being an elected board member to file suit against my own board and my own district," McCoy said. "But the truth is, if you're not here to represent (them), I don't know any other reason you're here."
The city has 20 days to respond to McCoy's suit. He said he would rather have talks with the city's administration than go to court. If that doesn't work, he said, he'll see them in court.