Is the City of Smithville overcharging city water customers for sewer?
Local resident Waniford Cantrell believes so.
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When the aldermen adopted the budget last year, they increased water and sewer rates. City customers are now paying $5.00 for the first one thousand gallons of usage plus $5.00 for each additional thousand gallons
Sewer rates also increased to $5.00 for the first thousand plus $5.00 for each additional one thousand gallons of usage
For example, if your monthly water bill is ten dollars then your sewer bill would be ten dollars making your total monthly bill twenty dollars.
Cantrell, who addressed the mayor and aldermen Monday night, said he has been checking his own bill and has obtained bills from friends and neighbors and has discovered that in every case, sewer charges are higher than water charges by $3.62. Cantrell insists that, according to the budget, sewer charges should be equal to the water fees and no more.
Cantrell said the city should not only correct the billing to make this right, but it should give a rebate to the 2,300 water and sewer customers who he believes have been over billed since the budget was enacted last year.
Mayor Taft Hendrixson challenged Cantrell on his assumption saying that he doesn't believe the city is overcharging for sewer services. The mayor said the city is required by state law to charge everyone a fair user flat rate fee of $3.62 over and above regular city rates, which does put monthly fees for sewer higher than water charges. However, according to Mayor Hendrixson this flat rate user fee for sewer is nothing new. It has been budgeted and charged to customers for several years.
Cantrell pointed out that no such fee is spelled out in the budget and that if it wasn't included in the spending plan, it should not be passed on to water and sewer customers.