$900 water invoice leads Security Harbor couple to name for change in charges

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SAFETY HARBOR, FL — Security Harbor residents are talking out about what they take into account outrageous water payments.

Town is centered round water… from flowing fountains, to the town’s pier on Tampa bay, to the therapeutic mineral springs which have attracted guests to the well-known Security Harbor Spa and Resort for almost a century.

However lately some residents are upset concerning the metropolis’s water charges driving up their utility payments.

“After we acquired a $900 invoice, we have been like ‘Oh my God!’”

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Adam Walser

“This month, our invoice was $372.42,” mentioned retiree Michele Day. “I do know we are able to’t afford these huge payments.”

Christine McFadden purchased her house in Might, however her household didn’t transfer in till July 1st.

“Our first invoice was round $182, and our second invoice was over $320. And we weren’t residing right here,” McFadden mentioned. “I didn’t even know what to assume as a result of I didn’t perceive how that invoice may very well be so excessive.”

“When acquired a acquired a $900 invoice, we have been like ‘Oh my God!’” Audrey Kaplan mentioned.

She and her husband John Kaplan have been billed for utilizing almost 27,000 gallons of water in April.

With a low-flow showerhead, the Kaplan’s have of their house, the common five-minute bathe makes use of about 10 gallons of water. That may imply the Kaplans’ estimated month-to-month water utilization at 27,000 gallons in a month, can be the equal of them taking 90 showers per day.

“I’m not standing in there for twenty-four hours a day. There’s two dishes. So we run the dishwasher each second or third day,” Audrey Kaplan mentioned.

However the Kaplans admit they have been operating their irrigation system.

“We have now watered the garden,” mentioned John Kaplan. “However not for these numbers. It’s unimaginable.”

However the metropolis says clients typically use much more water than they assume they’re utilizing.

Meter exhibits as much as 1,500 gallons of water a day used for irrigation

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Adam Walser

The Kaplans have a brand new sensible water meter, which exhibits the town precisely how a lot water they’re utilizing and when.

Information present they used as much as 1,500 gallons some days on watering once they have been establishing their garden and landscaping at their new building house.

In Security Harbor, clients who use numerous water can pay extra per gallon, as a result of the town makes use of a tier system, through which charges leap from $3.65 per 1,000 gallons for the primary 5,000 gallons to just about $30 per 1,000 gallons for utilization over 20,000 gallons.

Mayor Joe Ayoub says the tier construction is meant to encourage conservation.


Adam Walser

“The folks which might be paying probably the most and are complaining about their payments are both within the third or fourth tier, the place it’s a bigger worth per gallon of water,” Ayoub mentioned.

He says the rising charges are usually not supposed to punish individuals who use massive quantities of water.

“They’re not punitive, since you solely pay the upper charge on the incremental water you’re utilizing,” Ayoub mentioned.

Town buys water from Pinellas County Utilities at a charge of $4.21 per 1,000 gallons, so the bottom tier clients’ water charges are sponsored.

Town additionally gives water pipes to houses, meter readers and staff who preserve the system and invoice and acquire funds.

So high-use clients are serving to the town recoup these prices.

“Town’s not making any cash on the water in any respect. So if we modify one tier, the high-end tier, it needs to be pushed to the opposite tiers, and other people on the decrease tiers, their charges will go up just a little bit. So it’s form of like reshuffling the deck,” mentioned Ayoub.

Michele Day posted about her excessive payments on her Subsequent Door app. She says she has heard from dozens of different Security Harbor utility clients.

“As I learn by means of these every single day it provides me just a little inspiration to know that I’m not the one one coping with this,” Day mentioned. “All of them have the identical query… why is our water so excessive in comparison with each place round us? “

Security Harbor’s higher tier charges are increased than in close by communities

John and Audrey Kaplan say their first utility bill was over $900 when they moved into their new home.png

Adam Walser

John and Audrey Kaplan say their first utility invoice was over $900 once they moved into their new house

Primarily based on the value of water alone, residential clients in Security Harbor pay $270 for 20,000 gallons of water, however simply throughout the road in Clearwater, clients pay $163.

The worth of 30,000 gallons of water in Security Harbor jumps to $565.

Whereas clients in Clearwater pay $291.99, St. Petersburg clients pay $249.62 and Hillsborough County water clients pay $172.60 for a similar quantity.

It’s not simply owners who’re paying a excessive worth.

The proprietor of Security Harbor’s new downtown coin laundry enterprise spoke out at a Security Harbor Metropolis Fee assembly final month after he acquired a $2,500 utility invoice.

“We’re new enterprise house owners, so our final one about scared the you-know-what out of us. As a result of it was so huge. We had reached a tier we didn’t know was attainable,” Joe Marciello informed commissioners.

Mayor Ayoub says the town is working with the enterprise to attempt to provide you with an answer.

Ayoub says different communities are in a position to provide decrease charges, as a result of they function their very own water vegetation, making it cheaper for them to supply water.

He says 80 % of shoppers fall within the decrease two tiers of utilization and individuals who use plenty of water for irrigation can purchase a separate meter for $500 to save cash on sewer fees.

“We have now a charge examine developing in fiscal yr 2022, so we’ll have a look at all of it and take all of the suggestions that residents are offering us and we’ll all the time have a look at a strategy to be extra honest within the charges,” Ayoub mentioned. “However on the finish of the day, no matter we pay for the water, we have now to cost our clients.”

Clients say they hope these increased pricing tiers will change.

“Each penny counts whenever you’re retired,” Day mentioned.

“Now I’m jokingly saying please, pee within the pool. It’s saving on the flushing and it’ll add just a little water to the pool,” McFadden mentioned.

Security Harbor utility clients who need extra details about irrigation-only meters or who’ve questions on their payments can name (727) 724-1555.

If in case you have a narrative you assume the I-Group ought to examine, electronic mail us at adam@abcactionnews.com

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