WATER BILLS

Celina residents have been battling the city of Celina this summer over their water bills, to which they’ve reported seeing increases of 200-400 percent.

Director of Administrative Services Paul DeBuff presented a report during this week’s City Council work session in order to address the increases, but many residents aren’t buying it.

One noted that her bill increased from $125 to over $500. Another quoted her bill as $85 over a nine-day period.

Mayor Sean Terry said that every summer the city goes through some form of water rate discussion due to the increases.

He said the city buys its water from Upper Trinity Regional Water District, which uses a “take-or-pay” system where once a municipality reaches a certain usage level, it must meet that amount the following year.

“Once you increase your capacity with Upper Trinity, you’re stuck with that bill for the next 11 months,” Terry said. “We feel like they work with us to a certain extent, but legislatively, we’re trying to change some of that, and we’re going to continue to do that.”

DeBuff said the city sees a 40 percent average jump in water usage average from July due in part to August heat and dry weather. In the presentation, DeBuff said other factors could include meter or software errors, rain guards that could allow watering systems to run continuously, pool water evaporation, or leaks in the home.

In a letter released on Wednesday, City Manager Jason Laumer said the city is confident in the accuracy of its meters, system and processes. City staff will be performing audits on bills over $350 and weekly meter audits. Laumer stated in the letter that residents who agree will be filmed during their audit, and videos will be posted for the public.

“We are always available to help answer questions, and want to encourage civil discussion on our social media and to answer whatever questions may arise,” the letter states.

The city has also capped sewer billing at 13,000 gallons, which is based on water usage. The cap will be lowered by 1,000 per year over the next five years.

To read the full presentation, including an explanation of sewer rates, visit celina-tx.gov.

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