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Claremont Residents Want City To Buy Water Company Accused Of Price Gouging

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CLAREMONT (CBSLA.com) — Claremont residents raised questions Wednesday night about rate hikes implemented by a controversial water company.

Golden State Water Company has been accused of price gouging in the past, and may soon be bought out by the city.

Randy Scott told KCAL9’s Crystal Cruz at a spirited meeting among community members Wednesday night that he’s shelling out more cash this year for water because of the recent 16 percent hike in fees.

“It is frustrating — the increases that we constantly see. On an annual basis, it’s about $600 to $800 more,” he said.

City leaders in Claremont say the water rates are too high, and are seeking to buy the for-profit water company for $55 million. Golden State executives, however, are reluctant to accept an offer.

“The company has always said that the system is not for sale,” Golden State spokesman Ben Lewis said.

“Again, we’ve provided customer service for over 80 years to Claremont. We do a great job of it. We have a proven track record of customer service. We don’t see a need to sell the service,” he said.

Company leaders say the city is not ready to handle the service and that residents would be looking at a 30 percent hike if the city took over.

City spokesman Todd Priest disagreed.

“I don’t think that the facts will back up a 30 percent hike. In fact, if you look at the cities operating the water systems … most Southern Californians receive their water from their municipal water systems,” he said.

In addition to Claremont, Golden State Water services parts of 75 communities across California. Rate increases have been blamed on infrastructure costs.

Claremont resident Ellen Taylor wants the company to sell now.

“We have been paying a lot for a lot of years,” she said.

The city is investigating taking over Golden State Water land by using eminent domain if the company continues to refuse offers to sell.

A spokesperson for the water company said representatives will hold their own town hall meeting on Nov. 19 for residents who have questions.

RELATED STORY:

CBS2 Investigates: Water Company Asks For 24 Percent Rate Hike While Refusing To Divulge Spending Reports

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