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Lodi City Council to discuss water usage at Tuesday meeting

Lodi City Council to discuss meters at shirtsleeve meeting

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Posted: Saturday, March 23, 2013 12:00 am

Splitting the bill among a large party at a restaurant is a bit of a headache for diners. Imagine working the same tricky math equation every month to determine who owes what for water use among renters.

If one water meter is tracking use for 12 different families in a single apartment building, whose job is it to break down that bill?

City staff will address that question at the Lodi City Council shirtsleeve meeting on Tuesday morning, along with a look at how to handle non-residential properties like stores, offices and restaurants.

As part of the statewide water meter requirement, Lodi's Public Works Department is in the process of installing one water meter on every property by 2017.

But for properties with multiple units, like apartments and mobile home parks, it would be impossible to determine how much water each tenant is using. Landlords would either have to raise the rent and hope it covers the difference, or install submeters to keep track of each home.

On March 14 and 19, the city held meetings with the property owners of apartment buildings, condominiums and mobile park homes to address their questions about how water meters and payments would work. About 60 owners attended.

On Tuesday, a wide range of questions and comments will be addressed to take the landlord's concerns into account.

In a report, city staff say the new program will work better for multiple family buildings or properties if the Public Works Department stops sending water bills to each tenant. Instead, staff suggests installing one mass meter, charging the property owner, and having that owner sort out the bill.

At previous meetings, council members were reluctant to leave the water billing up to each property owner.

Staff suggested alternately billing a flat rate throughout the year and settling the difference at year's end.

The meeting is informational only. The council will not make a final decision on water meter rates or charges.

Regardless of which plan is eventually selected, metered water charges will begin for mobile homes in January 2014, and for apartment complexes in January 2016.

Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com.

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