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Council increases rates to out-of-city residents
by Tim Delaney
Apr 26, 2014 | 85 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
REFUGIO – Following a public hearing Tuesday night, April 22, the Refugio City Council voted 3-2 to increase water and sewer rates to out-of-city limits customers.

But Humble Camp resident Iva Nell Haymaker protested the increase, as she believed it to be unfair.

She pointed out that for out-of-city limits customers, the rates have always been one-and-a-half times the in-town rates.

She said the city residents get a 75-cent increase, and the out-of-city residents get a $7.62 increase for water, hardly a one-and-a-half increase over the in-town rate.

However, Councilwoman Karen Watts said the one-and-a-half difference had been only on each 1,000 gallons after the first 2,000 gallons. Heard said the out-of-city base rate had not been one-and-a-half more for years.

The water and sewer rates for city residents had increased 75 cents to bring the rate up to $22. The out-of-city rate was $25.38 and was increased $7.62 to bring the rate to $33, which is one-and-a-half times the in-town rate.

“I think you could arrange a more fair and equitable rate,” Haymaker said.

She said it wasn’t fair for out of city people to cover for city residents because out-of-city residents can’t vote for council members.

Mayor Joey Heard said the rate was set to cover the cost of getting water and sewer out of the city limits to the people.

And Councilman Dale Skrobarcek said the high out-of-city rate was in lieu of city taxes that out-of-city residents don’t pay.

Haymaker said the difference was too much.

She said she wouldn’t mind being annexed if she could get the in-city rates.

However, Skrobarcek pointed out that where she lived was not contiguous to the city limits, which is prohibitive of annexation.

Haymaker said she was tired of paying $100 a month for water and sewer.

Watts said that amount is about what she pays in town.

The initial vote was 2-2 with Councilman Frank Hosey and Skrobarcek voting against the increase.

Councilwoman Wanda Dukes and Watts voted for the increase.

The tie vote was broken by Heard, who voted for the increase.

The increase goes into effect on May 1. Out-of-city customers will see the increase on their utility bills at the end of May.

In other city business, the council entered executive closed session to consider termination of water department employee Stephen Schuster as recommended by water superintendent Gabriel Morales.

Schuster was placed on administrative leave without pay April 17.

After the closed session, the council voted unanimously to terminate Schuster for evidence they reviewed, including conduct unbecoming of a city employee, not good public service, insubordination and tardiness.

Councilman Lenny Anzaldua was absent from the meeting.

The council also opted to not increase game room machine permit fees.

Currently, the city levies a $500 fee per machine.
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