City starts audit negotiations, stops water discussion

To City Administrator Jeff Looney's own detriment the council shut down a discussion regarding commercial master meters for local RV parks and apartment complexes. Place 5 Councilman – and mayor candidate – Kenny Hughes said “for the council to even continue considering this would be a disservice” to citizens.

“I've researched and talked to people,” explained Hughes. “This would effect two elderly apartments and an economically challenged apartment.”

MJ and John Alford – former owners of Westwood Utility Corporation – asked the council to rethink this decision in February based on research done on their part. The Alford's own Primrose RV Park on U.S. 84 in Fairfield and said in a previous meeting that their “water supply doesn't overly burden the City of Fairfield.”

MJ also said last year the RV park used 216,200 gallons of water for a total cost of $2,357.

“Treating our RV park as if it were a subdivision and charging each occupied space as if it were a home (at commercial rates) is not a fair representation of our business or our use of your water resources,” she explained. “It's an oppressive charge when you consider what that would do over a year to our rates.”

Looney responded to Hughes' motion by saying he was just doing what the council asked of him.

The Alford's, along with their bookkeeper Jennifer Granbury, put together a list of similar size cities and show none are charging the RV parks this way.

Looney sent a letter to Granbury in January stating, “City staff conducted a utility billing audit and noticed that charges have not been applied to the water and sewer bills of RV parks and apartment complexes...All multiple unit properties operating one master meter shall be charged a base rate of $22 for water for each occupancy unit and a base rate of $13.65 for wastewater for each occupancy unit. This base rate will cover the first 2,000 gallons for each occupancy unit. Any water usage charges beyond the number of occupancy units shall be charged at the existing rates.”

Hughes suggested if a new apartment complex were to build in the city limits, the council could negotiate meters and pricing with the builders. Stoneleaf is the only apartment complex being charged in this manner.



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