By GRACE METZGER
New home builders in Calaveras County can now get refunds for fees paid for sewer service before it was in use, the Calaveras County Water District Board of Directors decided during a special meeting Wednesday morning.
The new policy allows customers to apply for rebates on the fees they had to pay during the building period.
After obtaining a county building permit, home builders must pay an $11,000 capacity fee for CCWD water and sewer services. The fee reserves a certain amount of space in a CCWD water storage facility.
From then on they are charged a monthly $45 sewer user fee, said CCWD Finance Director Julie McManus. They must pay the monthly fee whether or not they actually have functioning toilets, showers and garbage disposals.
McManus said the $45 fee is the only way CCWD can ensure that those connected to the sewer are paying their dues. "You have to be paying for service if you want to reserve your capacity," she said.
However, the board considered the new rebate policy after customers complained it was unfair to be charged monthly for services they weren't yet using.
According to the new policy, rebates will only be available for new customers who sign up for service after July 31. But Board President Jeff Davidson said the board would consider requests for rebates from customers who signed on before July 31 and come before the board to ask for a variance.
Customers may be reimbursed for up to six months of unused sewer service as much as $270.
It is the customer's responsibility to apply for rebates at the CCWD office, McManus said. When a customer shows proof of occupancy in his new home, rebate funds will be credited to his account.
"We're cleaning up that period of non-use," McManus said. "This gives the customer more control." She added that the new policy is "less staff-intensive."
Also discussed during the meeting was a 2001-2002 Grand Jury recommendation that CCWD consider changing its name to avoid confusion with county government.