(Kim Siever photo/Wikimedia)

LETTER: Harrison utility fee change worrisome

Harrison resident Barbara Dramer shares her concerns about switching back to annual billing

(Re: “Harrison utilities move to annual billing,” AHO, Aug. 15, 2019)

Call me gob-smacked! That was my reaction to this article.

Until about four years ago, HHS residents were paying utility fees annually. These were included as part of our property taxes. The village office elected to change this system, and we began paying our utilities separately from our property taxes, on a quarterly basis. I was personally assured by village office staff that there was essentially no significant change in the amount we were paying.

A short time later, approximately one year, we saw a dramatic increase in our utility fees. This affected condominium owners significantly more than it did single-dwelling home owners. Condominiums, which were buildings with functioning water meters, paid for the amount of water consumption by owners through our strata fees. Individual condo owners also paid an additional user fee for maintenance and upgrades to the system directly to the village office, along with our sewer fees.

The village elected to stop using the water meters and chose to bill individual condo owners the same amount for water consumption as individual home owners paid. This was in spite of the fact that years of water meter records for our buildings demonstrated substantially lower rates of water consumption than the amount we would now be billed for. Our user fee continued unchanged.

The result was condo owners started paying more than double they amount they had previously. Detached home owners saw a slight decrease in their utility bill at this time.

When I receive my quarterly utility bill, it usually comes with a notice about changes to my garbage, recycling or green waste pick up. Unfortunately, condo owners in HHS are not eligible for these services, so this is truly a waste of paper, and adds insult to injury .

Could the village admin/financial staff not have predicted the cost of changing to a quarterly billing system, in terms of paperwork involved, when they made the change initially? With a recent increase in sewer fees, I question what is coming next.

Call me a small senior person in a small condominium paying what appears to be exorbitant utility fees.

-Barbara Dramer, Harrison Hot Springs



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