The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

September 10, 2013

Letter: Water bill practices are unfair

Enid News & Eagle

— You own a home. You have one meter, one account and you get one bill. This includes one water base rate of $9.91 and one sewer base rate of $9.91, which covers the first 1,000 gallons, and then you are billed $2.68 per 1,000 gallons for water over the base 1,000.

You own a commercial building. Examples of commercial buildings include a retail strip mall, a medical office building, retail establishment or business office building. Again, there is one meter, one account and one bill.

If the building has one tenant or one business operating out that building, the owner is charged one base rate for water at $19.82 and one base rate for sewer at $19.82, and then $2.68 per 1,000 gallons over the base 1,000 gallons.

However, if the commercial building has multiple tenants or multiple businesses operating out of the same building, even though the amount of water is the same each month and there is only one meter and only one bill sent to the building owner, the bill will contain an additional base rate for water and sewer for each tenant or business in that building.

Consider the following: A 50,000-square-foot building with only one tenant, using 25,000 gallons per month will pay one base rate for water and one for sewer and then a per-gallon charge for the next 24,000 gallons.

However, if that same 50,000-square-foot building has 20 tenants or 20 businesses in it, the owner will be charged 20 base rates at $19.82 and 20 base sewer rates at $19.82, a significant increase in charges for the same 25,000 gallons of water.

This is fundamentally unfair to the building owners in Enid who are being penalized for having more than one tenant or business in their building.

Water is sold by the gallon by the city of Enid. This current practice of billing for “multiple charging units” as a way to generate utility revenue as loosely defined in the city codes needs to be examined and changed to be more business-friendly, and to be fair, to our commercial partners here in the COE.

Dr. David Vanhooser

Enid City Commission, Ward 6