Extortion by local water/sewer district


#1

I just bought my first park in N CA May 2017. It was a distressed nearly empty park, but things are going well with the turnaround. 37 sites, 22 MHs, 9 lived in. We are now up to 14 paying occupants and the abandoned homes are selling like hotcakes.
It is on public sewer/water, which I thought was a good thing. During due diligence I learned they charge a base rate for all sites occupied by a MH of $100 per month, whether lived in or vacant.
The park is master-metered for sewer/water, and we submeter and charge back residents. The public utility is run by an elected board of five, in this very small poor town. Now the board has decided to charge $100 per site, including vacant sites. To not be charged for vacant sites, we have to dig up our sewer lateral and cap it off underground, then pay $200 for them to inspect, and pay $400 to reconnect. Thats bad enough, but get this.
I am friends with the owner of the largest park in town, 165 sites, and we are trying to get the board to just charge for sites with a home on it. She used to be on the water board and says they dont know what they are doing and are corrupt. Their billing system sucks, with no way of reconciling the charges. Bottom line is, my friend last week got a bill for an additional 16K in “missed charges from 2016”. And today she got a bill for $185,000 for retroactive missed charges over the last x number of years, $75K for missed capital expansion fees. She has contacted a lawyer to help us. Any advice you all can give us would be appreciated. Sue in CA


#2

Consider filing a complaint with the state governing body, such as the utility commission. Your attorney can advise you. Let us know how this progresses since it’s so common especially in small towns. I’ve had similar issues just not on the scale of yours.

Could all of the tenants send letters to the local politicians? If you have time for it could be a fun little grassroots campaign.


#3

Faced the same dilemma with a 140 space park where the 5 would count each home in the park a base of $41.50 for water including 2,000 gal of water per month. Spent over $2,500 with attorneys with the nearly $6,000 per month water bill found NO relief except to put in our own public water supply with a cost of $95,000 including wells, storage, etc. Our monthly cost now is less than $350 per month. The bottom line it increased our selling value using a 10 cap of over $680,000.


#4

Same nonsense in OH. I get charged a flat fee for each lot no matter if it has a home on it or not. Looked into changing this, but hit an expensive wall mighty fast. I am convinced that small towns are run run by corrupt and incompetent people and I will never invest in another one again.


#5

I am also in Ohio and also found that the local water company changed their policy to charging a base fee for each lot or other unit in the park year round, whether the unit is occupied or not and whether the lot has a unit on it or is vacant.

I am pretty sure that if all of you dig far enough you will find this is because of the EPA. I have a park that is on it’s own water service and my EPA representative for drinking water told me on the last on site visit that I needed to get a company to come out and sub meter and bill each tenant for water. He said that the EPA wanted each water system to have its own “war chest” of funds to use for improvements. He said that the funds that the EPA has for grants for municipal systems and loan funds for private systems are limited and likely to become more limited.

When I spoke to a representative of the municipal system that serves another property he said they were basically told by the EPA that they had to change their billing practices so they were not dependent upon EPA funds for EPA mandates. So basically the same thing.

all I know is that after I had already sent out lease renewals for one of my parks the municipality sent me a notice that they would no longer sub bill my tenants and I had to pay a minimum for each lot year round
After consulting with my attorney it was obvious that I was going to take a loss on water bills for 9 months until the lease was up for renewal

and now the sewer is doing the same thing as far as billing for a monthly minimum instead of a minimum based on usage. This park has suddenly become much more expensive to operate.


#6

Hello,

We have run into the same problem at several MHPs. Most recently the Municipality Supplier’s one - $15 base fee per the single main meter (charged since the inception of the park) was re-evaluated and applied a $15 per approved space (37 some with/with out homes). Luckily the “increase” was not retroactive.
We previously sub-metered and billed the residents: So as the billing company we were the "bad guys" ( and not owner/manager): Obviously, we diplomatically explained to the residents in letter with their bills the reason for a 50% increase, and then fielded the many calls and complaints that came poring in. Bottom line the drastic increase was a non-event for the owner/manger.

Always find out what governmental agency is responsible for approving the w/s rates and confirm the approved rates are be applied correctly to your MHP.

We’re here to answer your water sub-metering questions.

Sincerely,
Dan Helton
President
Southern Water Management
727-827-4509
Dan@SouthernWaterManagement.com