City Reconsiders Charging Sewer/Water Fees for Empty RV Sites
City commissioners in San Benito, Texas, Tuesday (Dec. 6) agreed to consider revising a new ordinance that charges a base water and sewer fee to RV parks for empty spaces and for vacant apartments.
Winter Texans packed City Hall to protest the law that some warned would force small RV parks to shut down, the Valley Morning Star, Harlingen, reported.
Commissioners said they would also consider amending the ordinance’s clause that allows the city to charge a $10 base water and sewer fee for every vacant apartment unit.
Commissioners took the action a day after the city’s utility board voted 3-1 against changing the ordinance.
Commissioners would have to determine how to calculate the number of empty RV spaces and vacant apartment units if they agree not to charge them, Pete Claudio, chairman of the utility board, told commissioners.
Commissioners could rely on occupancy reports from RV parks and apartment complexes or assign a city employee to determine the number of empty spaces and vacancies, Claudio said.
“Be fair,” Bonnie Dominguez, manager of Fun N Sun RV Resort, said after the meeting.
Under the new ordinance, the city charges Fun N Sun $168,000 a year for the park’s 1,400 spaces, Dominguez said.
But as many of 300 of those spaces remain empty year-long because they are too small for bigger, late-model mobile homes and RVs, she said.
“It’s dead space,” Dominguez said. “There’s no toilet, no building, no unit. There’s nothing there but a meter and a sewer pipe.”
Winter Texans returned to City Hall on Tuesday to protest the new ordinance they warned would drive up rents and lead some park residents to move out of town.
“That $10 will be coming back to me and all of us with permanent homes there,” Alice Nash, a Fun N Sun resident, told commissioners.
The new ordinance that charges $10 for about 2,900 park spaces and apartment units in the city will generate about $348,000 a year to help boost city coffers amid a national recession that’s driven sales tax revenues to six-year lows, Claudio has said.
Monday, utility board members argued the ordinance makes RV parks and apartment complexes shoulder part of the burden of high water rates that have climbed since 2004. Single-family homes bear the brunt of average monthly base water and sewer fees of $49.68, they said.