City May Modify RV Parks’ Water Bills
Members of the San Benito, Texas, Utility Board will recommend that the city modify a controversial $10 monthly base water service fee imposed on RV parks for each lot, board members said Thursday (Feb. 9).
But board Chairman Pete Claudio declined to elaborate on how the water fee ordinance could be modified, and City Attorney Rick Morado did not return phone calls about his recommendation on the measure’s legality, the Brownsville Herald reported.
Another board member suggested the ordinance could be suspended until the matter is resolved.
Claudio said the issue has escalated tensions between Winter Texans and the city but he predicts the issue will be resolved soon.
“We had a meeting in executive session (Wednesday) and we went over the language of the law,” Claudio said. “The only thing I could tell you out of executive session is that the decision was made in open session to make a recommendation to the commission to modify the ordinance … to be compliant to state law.”
RV park residents say the water fee ordinance violates state law by charging for every lot, whether occupied or not.
If the City Commission adopts the Utility Board’s recommendation, the controversy should be over soon, Claudio said.
“We don’t want to divulge too much because the commission still has to approve it,” Claudio said. “But as far as our committee, we’ll make a recommendation to the commission, but they still have to approve it.”
Utilities Board member Victor Garza said the present ordinance may be suspended for now.
“We need to make sure it’s in compliance with the state and federal guidelines,” he said. “Local residents and businesses have to pay a base fee plus usage. … We want to do what’s fair for everybody,” Garza said.
The exact wording of the modification is still being worked out by Morado, Claudio said.
It would be prohibitively expensive to require RV lots to have separate water meters for each lot because tap fees would be charged for each site, Claudio said.
“That may be an option that we might consider doing down the road,” he said. “We might want to talk about it.
“But we’re not considering doing that at the moment because that would be pretty expensive for them and for the city.”
City Secretary Lupita Passement said no joint meeting between the Utilities Board and City Commission has yet been scheduled.
Although the issue has become controversial, the threat of Winter Texans boycotting local businesses doesn’t seem to have taken much effect, Claudio said.
“I don’t know if it’s had an effect. I do know that every time I go to Walmart or (to businesses) around here, I still see Winter Texans,” he said.