Ocean City Today

OC Council alters mobile home water bills

Consumption, fixtures two parts of formula, older units could have wrong number
By Katie Tabeling | Aug 24, 2017

(Aug. 25, 2017) Ocean City’s mobile home residents will soon see their water bills increase, as the City Council decided to alter half of the equation that determines how the neighborhoods are charged.

Generally, water and sewer bills are calculated by two factors: consumption and the number of water fixtures in each unit. Since usage wildly fluctuates depending on the time of year, the resort heavily relies on fixture rates to even out homeowner expenses.

Ocean City bills for each 1,000 gallons used in a single-family home per quarter, then charges for each fixture. But City Manager Doug Miller explained during Tuesday’s work session that the data for mobile homes could be outdated. Water fixtures were tallied by the Worcester County Sanitary Commission, which was abolished in 1994.

“We think the initial counts were accurate. For mobile homes and condominiums, we total up the amount of fixtures and we have one bill for them. The management sub-bills that as they see fit,” City Manager Doug Miller said during the Aug. 15 work session. “Your concern is how to accurately bill the mobile home parks.”

“There have been alteration permits and sub-permits, and we have accurate counts of those,” Public Works Director Hal Adkins said. “But the additional fixture count has not been included.”

The mayor and City Council set charges for 1,000 gallons of water used at $4 for the next two fiscal years and $4.20 in FY20. Water fixture fees at a flat rate of $1.60 for the next three fiscal years, but wastewater fixtures increase from $9.25 in FY18 to $9.60 in FY20.

The City Council discussed this issue in 2014, but took no action. This week, Miller recommended that the council direct the permitting staff to review those records to get an accurate fixture total for each park, then bill the neighborhoods accordingly.

Councilman Wayne Hartman did not want to wait, and wanted to set a new standard fixture rate across the board for the parks that day. That would serve as a contingency until staff tallies the fixtures.

Hartman said somehow three of the parks had been given a four-fixture assessment, while Sundowner’s assessment is based on five.

“I propose we modify that to six fixtures unless we know otherwise,” he said. “In the case we know they’ve been updated, then it’s only fair to go to that number.”

Hartman’s motion passed 6-0, with Councilman John Gehrig absent. The increases will go into effect by Jan. 1, 2018, which gives staff time to go through all the permits for the mobile home neighborhoods to determine the true fixture count.

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