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Utility district turns down billing change request

The LaGrange County Regional Utility District heard a request from All-American RV owner Brian Schaper to change the billing method for several mobile homes that are at the Atwood Shores RV Park near Wolcottville.

According to Schaper, the lines from the mobile homes run through the campground’s meter. The campground is billed for all waste through the meter, Schaper noted, including from the mobile homes, which are also billed as single family dwellings.

The mobile homes are charged the single family rate of $68.30 per month. “In effect, I’m double paying for those units,” Schaper said.

Schaper asked if the district would cease billing separately for the mobile homes and only bill for the metered amounts.

The district’s legal counsel, John Gastineau, noted that the rate ordinance states that if a property is used for more than one use, it can be billed for each use. Gastineau added that the district determined that the mobile homes were being used year-round or were made available for year-round use.

The district reportedly began billing for the single family use in May 2010.

Gastineau also pointed out that the district has an ordinance that allows for the discontinuation of billing. “He could follow that ordinance,” Gastineau said. That would require the removal of the structure or plumbing, Gastineau said.

“This board took action on May 12, 2011, notifying Brian that he would be billed as the single family rate at Atwood Lake,” Board President Mike Sutter said. The motion was to bill only for the metered rate if the homes were not leased, Sutted added.

Gastineau noted that Schaper could incorporate the rates into what he charges the occupants

Schaper said that his groundskeepers occupy the mobile homes as part of their compensation for work and that he could not add the monthly rate. “I’m asking for what’s fair. I’m paying twice for the same amount of sewer use,” Schaper reiterated to the board.

The board moved to continue to bill under the current methods, with the mobile homes billed at the single family rates.

“I hope you can live with that,” Schaper said.

In other business:

The board approved the sewer use ordinance for the district. The ordinance covers all service districts, including Shipshewana West, with the exception of Fawn River Crossing. The new ordinance consolidates all of the various district ordinances and previous amendments to create a single unified ordinance for the utility district.

The board heard a report on the 2012 budget and were told that the district’s budget has decreased $95,000 from 2010.

The board also heard that the interest rate for the Shipshewana West project is expected to be 3.75 percent. It had previously been expected to be 4.125 percent. That could net an annual savings of $4,000 to $5,000 per year. The district was told it would be a slight chance to close on the bonds before Christmas, but it would likely be just after the first of the year.

The board approved the low quote for a maintenance truck was from Max Platt Ford at $33,430.

The board approved the installation of a second meter at the Golden Buddha/MGB, with the cost of equipment and installation covered by the owner.

The board approved a billing adjustment for the Best Western hotel at Fawn River Crossing, which refilled its pool. The adjustment was for the sewer amount only, as the water emptied from the pool did not go through the sewer system.