|Posted by Anne Siren on September 7, 2012 at 2:50 PM|
Lauderdale-By-The-Sea -- Town commissioners unanimously agreed Tuesday to go back to the drawing board for more information rather than vote on proposed new sewer rates for the south end of town.
Instead they tabled the issue until Oct. 23 and agreed to hire their consultant to do more research on commercial customers.
“I’m not comfortable with moving forward with the information we’ve been given recently and the impact on single-family homes,” Mayor Roseann Minnet said. “We’re a small community. I recommend a review to see how much water is being used by commercial customers so single-family residents don’t get hit for all of this.”
Vice Mayor Scot Sasser agreed. “We need more work and more analysis done. I don’t feel this is fully baked.”
Tony Bryan, finance director, explained that the proposed commercial rates were developed using American Water Works Association, or AWWA, tables.
“We will go back and take a look at different commercial customers and develop tables based on actual use,” Bryan said. He said each property or each class of property (such as large hotels) could be looked at, so that more accurate figures are developed.
Bryan said two properties could have very different water usage and would be charged the same base facility charge based on meter size.
“Additional work needs to be done to gather the data to really apportion base charges to commercial customers in accordance with their use,” Bryan said. “Because the town is as small as it is, it can be done.”
Commissioner Stuart Dodd asked the town’s consultant, Mike Burton, to weigh in. He came up with the proposed rates approved at first reading in late June. “Are we trying to fine tune this too far?” Dodd asked.
Burton said the AWWA tables usually are used as a default when more accurate data isn’t available. “When you get more granular data, there’s usually more demand assigned to the commercial class than what the meter equivalency table dictates.”
Burton said the use of the AWWA tables shifted more cost to the residential classes. The analysis will provide a more fair depiction of the demands of commercial customers he said.
Dodd said he also favored delaying the vote.
“Last time when we had a professional review, we ended up with a proposed methodology that increased single-family rates considerably,” said Commissioner Mark Brown. “We have no assurance that we won’t have higher rates for commercial (with the new method.) We’re gambling and trying to cover ourselves.”
Commissioners unanimously agreed to hire Burton & Associates for no more than $5,000 to obtain the additional data. Burton said that will involve looking at the commercial customers average usage in the maximum three months. The number of units assigned to commercial customers will be based on what the demand has been for that customer instead of meter size.