Tuesday, March 26 2013, 11:35 AM CDT
City of Phoenix to discuss water rates
By Whitney Clark/KTVL.com
PHOENIX, Ore. -- Without a yard to take care of, Chris Gilbert and his family don't use much water at their Phoenix apartment.
"We do dishes, we do laundry," Gilbert said. "We have a glass of water here and there."
It's that water that has Gilbert's money going down the drain.
"They are charging an apartment complex, or mobile home park -- outrageously," said apartment manager, Dotty Steinhoefel. "They're putting all the burden on them."
Steinhoefel manages the Brookside Townhouse apartments in Phoenix off Cheryl Lane, which recently became incorporated into the city. She says since then her tenants water rates have just about tripled from around $50 a building to nearly $300.
"Our water bill use to be about $160 month," she said. "Right now it's currently $1,300."
She is calling the cities rates unfair, saying each of her residents are now getting charged a base fee of nearly $34. Steinhoefel says they only use about $6 or $7 a month for water, and the base rates are something no one can afford.
"People don't have money," Steinhoefel said. "People are unemployed. They don't have the money to get a $34 a month increase."
However, the city manager Eli Naffah says the rates haven't changed since 2011 and apartment residents have always paid a base rate individually.
"They have always paid the base rate, as far back in history as we can go," Naffah said. "So this is nothing new."
Besides a mobile home park, Naffah says only one other apartment complex has formally complained about the rates. He explains the base rates help the city maintain the water system -- everything from the pipes, to paying employees.
"There's a cost that the city has even before a drop of water is used by a customer, and sometimes people don't understand that," Naffah said.
After the initial complaint from the mobile home park, Naffah says they started a water study to make sure everyone was paying what they needed to.
The base rate was $32 dollars for about five years, Naffah said, then it went down to $28 in 2011. But that made residents bills go up because they were paying for water not included in the base fee, he said, so the city raised rates back up. The base rates include 5,000 gallons of water a month.
The city will discuss a water study at Tuesday's meeting. It will be at the Phoenix High School library at 6:30 p.m.