Job’s Peak residents fight water rate hike
The Job’s Peak Ranch Community Association is suing Douglas County in response to a reported 400 percent increase in monthly water bills for the 55 users of the water system.
Douglas County approved Resolution 2009R-063 which would increase water fees from $65 a month to up to $457 a month within three years.
The increase includes $1.4 million to build a water treatment facility to remove corrosive chemicals from the water and bring it in compliance with federal regulations.
Attorney Kelly Chase said the suit was filed on Oct. 5 on behalf of the association.
Chase is seeking to invalidate the resolution because the association objects to adding the cost of the treatment plant in the user rates and the process used by the county to adopt the resolution.
According to the suit, the county entered into an agreement with the developer providing for the construction of a water system in accordance with county standards or provide a bond for the costs to fix it.
The developer informed homeowners in 2004 that the water system did not meet federal or state water standards for water quality.
On Sept. 8, 2005, the county engineer advised commissioners not to approve any final maps for the project until the water system was brought up to system.
Three months later, on Dec. 15, the county agreed to accept dedication of the water system as-is, without warranty and with full knowledge of the system’s deficiencies.
In 2006 and 2009, the county approved final maps for Job’s Peak, according to court documents.
The lawsuit says the fees are unreasonable because they only apply to the current 55 lot owners, and the agreement accepting dedication of the water system is invalid because it directly contradicts the requirements in the development agreement.
Chase is seeking an injunction to prevent the county from enforcing the resolution and increasing residents’ water bills.
The county has been in the process of raising rates at its water companies to pay for administrative and improvement costs.
Rates for the East Valley Water System were increased on Nov. 5, and staff was directed to proceed with a water rate increase for the West Valley Water System, which serves Genoa.
Genoans are looking at a 21.92 percent rate increase at commissioners’ Dec. 3 meeting.