The city of Lynch looks to raise rates for water, sewage and garbage at the Cumberland Manor Apartments complex located on Gilbert Drive in Lynch. After a lengthy discussion at a recent meeting, council members asked their financial officer, Bill Dean, to prepare a four-month study to show figures on usage versus rates currently being paid at the apartment complex.
“Last month we talked about raising the rates at the apartment complex,” said councilman Carl Collins. “Mayor, did you get a chance to speak with them about this? I know it’s been at least 12 years since we raised the rates up there. Our other citizens have had their rates raised three times to help this city out. The apartment complex has gotten by every time and it’s not fair for our other citizens.”
Mayor Johnny Adams said he had contacted officials at the Cumberland Manor Apartments complex and they “contend they are paying more than regular residential customers are paying for the water they use.”
“They very seldom have 100 percent occupancy, but we are charging them almost that every month,” said Adams.
Financial Officer Bill Dean said the Cumberland Manor Apartments are charged one flat rate each month for 35 units.
“If they were at full occupancy, they would have about 35 apartments full. So, anything they have over 35 apartments, they get a break on. Anything under 35 apartments, they are paying more,” said Dean. “They are paying approximately $1,000 for water, $1,000 for sewer, approximately $800 for garbage and $200 for taxes per month.”
There are 47 units at the apartment complex and they average 80 percent occupancy, Dean said. He said the standard rate for anyone using 2,000 gallons or less of water per month is $74.28.
“I’ll tell you how Cumberland does it,” said councilman Winston Yeary. “They divide the unit into the water usage and if it goes over 2,000 gallons they charge them for 3,000 gallons. Therefore, they are not always paying a flat rate. You have one master meter at the Cumberland Manor Apartments in Cumberland and one at the Lynch complex. They charge each unit individually, but everybody pays the same. Some may use 3,000 gallons, some may use 5,000 gallons. It doesn’t matter — same monthly bill. We have no idea if these apartment units are full or empty at any given time.”
City Clerk Erica Eldridge said Cumberland Manor is being charged commercial rates, which is much higher than residential rates.
Councilman Stanley Sturgill suggested raising the rates at the apartment complex in Lynch.
“It’s not like they are going to go to Benham and get their water and garbage,” said Sturgill. “It’s time to raise the rates for them.”
Dean said he had called Cumberland Manor and asked for a copy of their agreement with the city. He said they told him they didn’t have one. He also said he could not find an ordinance on file addressing this situation.
“This is just the way it has been done since about 2005 as far as I can find,” said Dean.
Yeary suggested an ordinance be prepared to address this type of situation where dual homes or apartment complexes have only one master meter. He then said he would like to see exactly how much water is being used at the complex. He asked Dean to prepare a study for the last four months and present it at the next council meeting in November.
“An ordinance will protect us in the future,” said Yeary.
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