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Utility district moves to clear up camp billing

 

The LaGrange County Regional Utility District is taking action to clear up an ongoing billing issue with Camp Potawatomi in Region B, including setting a new monthly rate for the camp, as approved Wednesday night.

With how to bill youth camps being part of the discussion earlier this year on billing changes through state legislation, it came to light that the YMCA camp had been billed under an agreement made when the system was put in 12 years ago. However, no record of the agreement was found and questions were raised concerning the number of beds at the camp as well as what structures were hooked into the system.

Recently, utility board members, staff and the district’s legal counsel met with representatives from the camp to discuss changes and options available to the camp based on the new laws.

District legal counsel John Gastineau informed the board that the camp was told that the district would begin charging them a new flat rate based on the new law and current count of beds. The new rate would be set at $872.34, up from $583.74.

The camp would also be given the option to go to a metered rate, as allowed by law for camps.

It was noted that two structures that sit on one parcel of land at the camp are not connected to the system, and could possibly qualify for an exemption to hook into the district, as set out by the new law that took effect July 1. The parcel is over 10 acres in size, which is one of five criteria that needs to be met to be exempt.

The board voted to give the camp 60 days to determine if it would switch to a metered rate and if the two structures could qualify for exemption.

The board was told that the camp would also be removing 42 beds from six cabins that reportedly had not been used for some time. The camp representatives indicated to the district that they were planning to demolish those buildings. A single, larger building may be built at that location at a later date.

Region B user Tom Mason pressed the board on whether or not the district was going to try to recoup any revenue that might be due from the past. “Reviewing this, I have no idea how this was let go for this long. How was it overlooked?” Mason asked.

Board President Mike Sutter told Mason that he believed if the board had had more stability in the past, the issues with the camp might have been realized sooner.

In other business:

The board was told that rates for the Stone Lake and Fish Lake areas serviced by White Pigeon, Mich., were expected to increase by $10.50 as White Pigeon begins to work on upgrading its system.