DELANO - The city of Delano is in hot water, in a dispute over water.
On Wednesday, the city was sued by the Delano Guardians Committee over soaring utility rate hikes.
The latest spike was two months ago.
Residents say with this lawsuit, they hope the city will listen.
"It's too much, it's too hard for families. So, the increases just need to stop," said Valerie Gorospe, community organizer for the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment.
Gorospe says Delano is being hit hard by increased utility rates, including water, sewer and street sweeping.
She says the rate increases started in 2009.
"It's hurting senior citizens. It's hurting farmworker families. It's hurting families that are living below the poverty line," said Gorospe.
On Wednesday, a group known as the Delano Guardians Committee filed a lawsuit against the city, claiming city officials violated Proposition 218.
Prop 218 requires two-thirds of voters to approve all property-related fees.
Residents say they had enough signatures that would have prevented the rate hike.
"We definitely had more than enough signatures than what was required under Prop 218 and the city rejected a lot of petitions that should not have been rejected," said Gorospe.
According to the lawsuit, the increase will raise the average cost of utilities by $65 over the next five years.
"We knew it was coming, but again we didn't know it was going to be this fast," said Delano resident Aida Ramirez.
City leaders said earlier this year they need the money to start paying off some $53 million in loans taken out for water and utility infrastructure improvements.
But, for city residents the fees aren't adding up.
"Are they going to pay their medicine? Are they going to pay their water bill? There is a lot of fear and nervousness of how things are going to get paid," said Gorospe.
The lawsuit seeks an independent recount of the petitions.
Our calls to city officials in Delano were not returned as of news time Wednesday.