HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) – Huntington City Council chambers were filled with people Monday evening to speak at two different public hearings. The first item discussed was upgrades to the city’s sanitary system.

The Huntington Sanitary Board says their current system is nearly 100 years old and they have been receiving multiple fines and water quality violations. They requested the approval to move forward with a $200 million dollar project to make needed repairs.

After some discussion on this, council members put it to a vote, and the ordinance passed with a unanimous vote.

However, the crowd of people at the meeting was split on the next item on the agenda, a 2% rate increase on residents’ bills. Sanitary workers say the current conditions are not safe and many are for improvements.

While most of the money for the project will be coming through federal and state grants, without the rate adjustment, the utility will not be able to cover the costs of repaying the loans taken out to fund it.

Many residents spoke up during the meeting saying they would not be able to pay the rate increase and encouraged the council to vote “no.”

After a long discussion on that item, including several questions from council members, by an 8 to 3 vote, the city council voted to approve the rate increase. This means HSB will move forward with this project.

However, those with fixed incomes are still asking “How are we going to pay it?” Mayor Steve Williams says he hopes to have a solution for that in the near future as well.

“There are some folks who are going to be paying a rate that’s hard and I’m hoping that we’ll be able to go to the legislature and figure a way to be able to provide some relief,” Williams says Monday night after the vote.