The owner of Greenwood Villa Trailer Park is happy with a compromise made within the new water rate structure, and says it will reflect in the rent of residents of the Drumheller neighbourhood.
Under the structure introduced for 2010, Audia was required to pay the base rate of $10 each for water and wastewater for each of the lots in his trailer park. With 110 units, he saw his bill increase by more than $2,000.
Despite having his appeal dismissed, the town continued to work on the issue.
Part of the 2011 Utility Rate Bylaw was to categorize users into various groups based on meter size, something Audia said he suggested. Under the new configuration, because he has a six-inch pipe feeding water to his development, he falls into Category 4, and was to be charged $895 base rate for water and $900 for wastewater, rather than for each lot.
However, he made the case successfully to town council that he should be able to fit into Category 3, where base rates are $475 each for water and wastewater. He argued a four-inch line would be sufficient to distribute water to his property, and the six-inch line was in solely for fire protection.
“The guy (original developer) put in a six-inch line, but a four-inch pipe would have done it for the water needed for the park. However, in order not to do two lines for fire protection, they put in a six-inch, which serves us well. If there is a fire, the six-inch has tremendous overflow,” said Audia.
He said the town CAO Ray Romanetz saw the justice to his argument and brought it to council.
At the January 31 council meeting, the matter was discussed. Councillor Jay Garbutt indicated he did not feel the short fall in revenue caused by that change should be made up by municipal consumers. Council voted in favour of the change. Garbutt was the sole vote opposed.
Audia said he doesn’t feel it is a burden for residents to have this exception made.
“It isn’t that the people of Drumheller are subsidizing me. They are reducing an exorbitant charge to a much lesser charge,” said Audia. “I still think I am overpaying, but it is not by much and it is not worth my while to do anything beyond what they have done. I think they have met me half way."
Because of the changes, he was able to deliver a notice to residents of Greenwood Villa Trailer Park informing them of a decrease in their rent.
“I have written a letter to the residents of the park, reducing their monthly bill by $15, which amounts to about $1,500. I told town council, it isn’t for me because I can pass the charge on, but I said it is too much for these people,” he said.
He said one of the positives of taking the case to the Alberta Utilities Commission is that it has created an equal playing field.
“Whether you are a motel, a school, a house, it is the pipe size that counts and everyone gets treated the same.”