Reuse water rate increase stalled

Officials of the Hideaway Beach Association, Island Country Club and Sea Watch Apartments balked at paying more than double for reuse water during Tuesday night’s lengthy Marco Island City Council meeting.

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The officials convinced the council to table a proposed increase until a “stepped” rate phased in over a two- to three- year period was drafted.

The city wants to increase the cost of reuse water for customers of the Marco Island Utilities from 58 cents per 1,000 gallons to $1.23. City staff said an inequity exists between the customers who are connected to reuse lines and others who can only water their property with potable water, which costs $3.08 per 1,000 gallons.

In Tuesday’s request for council consideration, Marco Island Finance Director Bill Harrison said reclaimed water rates should be set “at a level more in keeping with the value of the product as a replacement to expensive potable water for irrigation and at a rate more competitive with other utilities.”

Island Country Club was the top user of the city’s reuse water during 2005. The facility used about 87.7 million gallons of reuse water in 2005 at a cost of $45,545, according to the city. The club would pay approximately $96,500 for the same amount of reuse water if the rate increase is approved.

Philip Thompson, a member of the club’s board of directors, told the council during Tuesday’s meeting that competitive golf courses in Naples pay $25 an acre for the resource. He said the council’s proposed increase would mean the club would be paying $900 per acre.

Hideaway Beach and Hammock Bay were the other top users of the city’s reuse water.

Rod Kolesmik, the general manager of Hideaway Beach Association, said members paid more than $1 million in 1996 for the infrastructure to have reuse water piped to the development. He added that the association has since paid the fair market value for the resource and it’s not fair to pay an increase rate that has not been determined necessary.

Kolesmik and John Kett, who represented Sea Watch Apartments at the meeting, suggested that the city develop a two- tiered rate system for the resource.

City councilor Ted Forcht suggested the city increase the reuse water rate at a more reasonable cost and add a COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) to the rate each year.

Council member Mike Minozzi said he would be willing to consider a stepped rate.

Councilor Chuck Kiester said city staff should meet with the top users of the resource to work out an agreeable compromise on the rate and payment system.

City Attorney Rich Yovanovich recommended that the council take no action on the rate increase during Tuesday’s meeting.

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Comments » 2

15yearsmarco writes:

The city counsel has done a great job of pissing off everyone on the island, before it was just the people on septic..now the people on sewer are mad at the proposed increase in sewer rates, the people in the condos are made about the higher sewer rates and reuse water rates so is hidaway beach and the Island Club. Who is for this program other then some consolers? At least now it's fair, we are all getting screwed.

Lolala writes:

Lets not forget the Chamber of Commerce. They asked for a donation from the City to help defray the cost of their meals at a private birthday party. The Council wouldn't even consider it! Now they are upset too. Maybe the Council will target the clergy next.

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