Water meter issues result in headaches for city of Stacy, residents

The Sunrise Estates Mobile Home Park owners were surprised late this summer with a water bill of $78,610.70, the result of a failed water meter that went unnoticed for quite some time. Park owner Dustin Brakemeier has met with the Stacy City Council several times seeking resolution. In the latest discussion, Brakemeier requested the city allow him to pay using his bank card.
The city assesses a cost of $3 per household for utility bill credit card transactions. Brakemeier argued at the Oct. 13 council meeting that because the city bills the park on a single meter that serves the 220 units in the park, this should be classified as a single meter and a single $3 charge.
“If they (each household) pay three bucks, I should pay three bucks to be fair and equitable. I want to be charged the same as every other person with one meter on their property,” Brakemeier said.
Mayor Mark Utecht considered the request and then explained that by definition, the park is a commercial property. Under ordinance, commercial water and sewer users can’t pay the utility bill using a credit card. Brakemeier argued this is unfair and that he should not have to pay the $3 charge for each household within the park.
“I should get the same treatment as every single person in town,” Brakemeier said.
“We can’t give up $600 a month so you can have the convenience to use a credit card,” Utecht responded. “Where we’re at right now is the city has determined your park is a commercial user, and until that changes, you won’t be able to use your credit card to pay the bill without a fee.”
Council Member Jim Ness explained the city has calculated a $3 fee per residential meter based on the average residential household using 100 gallons per month.
“I hate to say this, but that’s the business you’re in,” Council Member Chuck Lucia told Brakemeier.
Brakemeier continued that he “didn’t think it was fair” and he questioned again why his residential properties are a commercial account.
As the mayor called the question, which requires the council to end discussion on an issue, no one on the council made a motion to make a change the status of the account or the bill.

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