At last night’s Hays City Commission work session, the commission was presented with a proposed ordinance that would increase the fees consumers are charged for having water meters installed. The revised ordinance would charge customers the actual cost of labor and parts.
Director of Utilities Bernie Kitten said that right now customers are charged only a percentage of what the material costs are for the city, and this change would shift the responsibility for these costs from the city to the consumer. Below is the outline of the current charges versus the proposed charges for consumers when the city installs water meters.
Commissioner Henry Schwaller IV said that he was opposed to the idea of the increase because their goal should be affordable housing, and this proposal could be another hurdle for people to overcome. He added that the city should look at other ways to recoup this cost through water rates over a period of time instead of instantly charging a flat fee up front. He used the hospital to illustrate his point of view.
“Have you ever used Purell in a hospital? [Did] you know they give the machine away? Why do they give the machine away? Because they know the hospital has to put Purell in it. There’s a lot of business that are structured where they give the first thing away because they know you’re going to have to buy the commodity from them. Water is a commodity….That’s my concern. I think our business model is strange.”
Other commissioners were hesitant to increase water rates to offset these costs. As Mayor Kent Steward said, “I do understand your point, but even if they may not see it in the price of their house they’d see it in the price of their utility bill if we go the other direction.”
The commission will discuss this topic next Thursday. Kitten said he will reach out to see how cities comparable to Hays charge for water taps to help the commission make their decision.
Below are the details costs associated with standard water taps and meter installation…click on the page for a closer look.