By SUNNY LOCKWOOD
Since Calaveras County Water District began charging customers for water and sewer hookups, whether or not they use the service, several CCWD customers have asked the board for an exception.
The latest, Irving Gilgert, on Sept. 11 asked the board to make an exception for his lot in Copperopolis. The duplex he built there burned down and he has not rebuilt, but he receives CCWD bills for $268 every other month for the lot that has two CCWD water meters and two sewer hookups.
CCWD's Finance and Investment Committee discussed the district billing practice, called its suspended service policy, at its Thursday morning meeting in San Andreas, and decided to take the policy back to the full board for more discussion.
The committee directors Leroy Fonceca from West Point and Bertha Underhill from Dorrington listened to a report from CCWD Finance Director Julie McManus and comments from General Manager John Stewart.
McManus said before the suspended service policy was adopted in 1999, developers would come in "buy a lot of meters at the lower service rates and then shut off the water, holding those capacities until they sold the homes they were building."
She said the policy was established to help pay for debt service and capital replacement among all customers hooked up to CCWD's systems whether or not they are using the water and sewer services.
She reported that about 300 customers with inactive service like Gilgert's generate about $80,000 a year for the district.
Both Fonceca and Underhill said they felt the policy was sound but could use further consideration by the full board.
McManus suggested that the board might give customers a choice when they suspend service. "They can either pay the new connection fee or the monthly fees that accrued during their suspension time," she said.
Both Fonceca and Underhill liked the idea.
The committee decided to take several questions prepared by McManus to the board at its next regular meeting, to help directors determine if the suspension of service policy needs changing.