Valpo OKs rate changes, not refunds for storm fees

2014-01-29T19:30:00Z 2014-01-29T22:22:09Z Valpo OKs rate changes, not refunds for storm feesBy Phil Wieland, (219) 548-4352

VALPARAISO | A proposal Tuesday to reset the stormwater rates for 552 properties was approved by the city's Utilities Board, which will result in Valparaiso collecting an additional $130,449 each year.

A second proposal to refund $16,764 for 20 of those properties that have been paying too much was set aside for now, partly because the board couldn't decide if it would be fair to reimburse the overpayments if it didn't try to collect from those who have been underpaying.

The $16,764 represents how much was overpaid by the 20 during the past year. Under a city ordinance, the board must repay overpayment in the event of an error by the utility. It also says the board has the discretion to collect up to two years of underpayments caused by errors in classification.

The city has six classifications for the monthly storm sewer fees. The classifications for each property were first set in 1998 using aerial photography, plat maps and a template. The advent of geographic information systems technology in 2011 makes it much easier to more accurately calculate the areas for classification.

Utility Director Steve Poulos said the initial classification wasn't an error because it was based on the best technology and information available at the time. That technology has improved significantly, and he recommended the refund but not pursuing the underpayments.

The new rate classification was approved, but Poulos agreed to have more information for the next meeting on the proposal to refund the money or pursue underpayments.

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