After reading the “Water Rate Review” article in your Saturday, March 22 edition, I feel it necessary to clarify the sequence of events that led up to me asking the city manager to evaluate the new water rates for apartment communities.
I began to hear complaints of higher water bills from both apartment owners and their managers soon after the new water rates took effect.
However, until I did my own analysis, I did not realize just how much higher these increases were.
After analyzing several months of water bills, the average increase for my property is 72 percent. Other properties have seen even larger increases!
A 79-unit apartment community is now paying more than double for water, compared to before the new rates were implemented.
A 60-unit retirement community is paying, on average, 178 percent more for the same usage prior to the new rates.
Some apartment communities include the water in the monthly rent amount, but other communities actually bill the residents individually for their portion of the water bill.
After further analysis, I met with the city manager and accounting department to explain the dilemma that apartment communities are facing.
The city manager and staff agree that this was an oversight and an impact analysis should have been completed for multi-family properties.
Once the city staff completed their analysis, they recommended that the issue be forwarded to the Municipal Utility Advisory Board (MUAB). That is the current status, and the council should be briefed on MUAB’s recommendation in the near future.
Given that I serve on the City Council and that I also own several apartment units, I was the most likely council member to hear complaints from apartment owners and their staffs.
I felt I had an obligation to listen and to bring these complaints to the attention of the city manager regardless of whether I owned apartment units or not.
However, in the future, I will be more sensitive to what could be perceived as a potential conflict of interest, and will defer to another council member to take the lead on the issue.
Gary L. Couch