Commissioners spar over water line tap fees

Published 7:59 pm Thursday, August 8, 2013

Polk County Commissioners disagreed during a meeting Monday, Aug. 5 over what the county should charge for water tap fees.

Commissioner Ray Gasperson said although he voted to allow all residents to tap onto the county’s waterlines for $700 until the end of the year, he may have voted differently if given more time to think about it.

The meeting agenda packet included minutes from September 2008 where commissioners then approved setting a temporary water extension policy charging residents 40 percent of the cost of the waterline extension,  with a maximum of $5,000 and a tap fee of $1,200 before the project and $1,600 after the project. The motion to approve the temporary water extension policy was made by then commissioner Harry Denton and seconded by then and current commissioner Tom Pack.

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Gasperson said the $1,200 tap fee goes back to 2008 but remained in place when the permanent policy was adopted in 2009.

“And now we have in effect several people upset,” said Gasperson. “They could have saved money. I’m convinced that the only thing that can be done is to take corrective action. Maybe we should rescind the action so we can go back and look at the issues that were created when we changed that tap fee from $1,200 to $700.”

Gasperson was referring to the board’s June 17 action of discounting the tap fee to $700. On June 17 the county also approved a $1,353,492 bid to extend its waterline from Peniel Road in Green Creek to the Hwy. 9 crossroads in Mill Spring. The tap fee discount is in place (for a ¾ inch tap) from July 1 through the end of the year and also includes no participation fees. The action was taken in order to grow the number of county water customers. So far, seven new customers have been obtained through the discount.

Commissioner Pack said people keep going back to the 2008 minutes, but the action then was to set a temporary tap fee and at the time that was the cost to the county for a tap fee.

Pack asked Gasperson why he wants to overcharge citizens now that the tap fee costs are only $700. Pack said he can go buy a car and two weeks later he could have gotten it for $1,000 less.

“You think I’m going to go and get a rebate because I didn’t wait,” Pack asked.

Residents who have expressed concern over the new tap fees live in Meadowbrook Farms, where the county charged a $1,200 tap fee with the last day to tap at that rate on being in May 2013.

Commissioner Keith Holbert said Gasperson is holding the new majority to a different standard than Gasperson was held to when the county ran a waterline to the Green Creek Community Center. Holbert read minutes from April 26, 2010, where then commissioner Warren Watson argued against the county fully funding a water line extension to the Green Creek Community Center, saying it is against the county’s water policy.