BAXTER SPRINGS — “We don’t want you to feel sorry for us. We just want you to feel our pain.” Those were the words of Deborah French as she testified before the Kansas Corporation Commission on Monday night in Baxter Springs. “Where are people going to come up with the money?” she said.

After much shouting and complaining by those gathered at the second public hearing on the Empire District request for a $5.2 million dollar rate increase it became apparent that there is little that can be done to stop the increase.

However, Niki Christopher, Attorney for The Citizens’ Utility Ratepayer Board commented her group will contest some of the elements in the proposal. “CURB will ask the commission to cut the request by $2 million or about 40 percent.”

Empire District employee salaries were criticized by many in attendance. And much was made of the handling of power outages by the company.

Many in the group criticized policies of the company and some even made accusations that some of the practices of Empire are illegal and irresponsible.

88 year old Max McCoy asked, “How many people will not be able to buy their meds and die?”

Mel Green of Columbus said “You deserve an increase, but not to that extent.”

Another resident commented, “It’s a vicious cycle. Please postpone asking for the increase until the economy improves.”

Darrell Neal said, “This county cannot sustain an increase in their electric bill. The worst thing the commission can do is let Empire get this increase.”

As a result of the meeting little was resolved concerning an increase. The only question remaining seems to be how much that increase will be.

The KCC will continue to take comments until May 7 by writing to: Kansas Corporation Commission, Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, 1500 SW Arrowhead Road, Topeka, KS 66604.

Final resolution is set for May 11.