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Wellington Questions PRWID's Water Rates

Sun Advocate community editor

The differences in water rates charged by Price River Water Improvement District was the main topic of discussion at the Wellington City Council meeting on Feb. 9.

In a letter sent to PRWID on Feb. 9, Mayor Karl Houskeeper advised the district that Wellington intends to have its account current by January 2006, provided there are no unforeseen emergencies with the city's sewer and water systems.

The letter stated that Wellington presently accepts the charges owed as being $70,884.83 for water and $67,294.71 for sewer.

"What is in that letter is what we agree to as far as charges go," said Wellington city recorder Ken Powell on Friday.

The issue surfaced a few months ago when it was reported that Wellington owed PRWID nearly $200,000 for sewer and water service stemming from bills dating back to March 2004.

Subsequent examination of the situation determined that Wellington's outstanding bill was significantly lower.

At the time Wellington's bill was being disputed, PRWID was selling water on an emergency basis to Helper city at $1.16 per thousand gallons, the price the district charges regular customers for overages.

Wellington was being billed as a regular customer at $2.90 per thousand gallons.

At a recent PRWID board meeting, Houskeeper pointed out that, in the city's opinion, Wellington should be getting at least as good a price on water as Helper was last year. He suggested a price rollback on what Wellington owed to the same level as Helper.

At a later PRWID meeting, it was discovered that a $2 overage fee was not brought forward when some rates were changed in 1999.

Therefore, when PRWID charged Helper the $1.16, the fee had reverted back to the 1996 rate.

At Wednesday's council meeting ,Wellington officials set up a committee to meet with a group that PRWID has established to look into the situation.

The committees are planned to negotiate the situation and come up with a solution.

The PRWID committee will consist of board chair Keith Cox, board member Betty Wheeler, district manager Phil Palmer and assistant district manager Jeff Richens. Wellington is sending Powell, senior public works official Ed Ericson, and councilmen Glen Wells and John Pappas as their committee to work with them.

Councilman Pappas was enlisted to the be the chairman of the group and he voiced his concern that Houskeeper should be on their committee.

"The PRWID board asked that I not be involved in the committee because it might be a conflict since I am on their board," said the mayor.

While there has been no move toward litigation on the issue so far, that step is not out of the questions according to many involved. Some suggestions have been made in a few meetings that the courts may have to get involved in the situation if a resolution doesn't meet all sides interests.

In another piece of business the council voted to go ahead with spending $18,000 on the engineering for a waterline project on Railroad Avenue later this year. The entire cost of the project is projected to be $150,000.

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