- Published on Wednesday, 20 February 2013 00:49
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Although the topic of charging non-profits for water and sewer has been on the council’s agenda for months, non-profits are just now getting the word and feeling the pinch.
Colonial Beach recently discovered that giving non-profits a break on water and sewer bills puts them at risk of violating their utility bond agreements and the town’s water and sewer ordinance. Continued violation could result in affecting the towns bond rating and ability to secure loans for future projects.
The council has been reluctant to act quickly on the matter, knowing what a burden it will put on non-profits organizations.
In January the council invited representatives of all non-profits in town to attend an informational meeting. Linda Brubaker spoke on behalf of St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church, Burkett Lyburn represented the First Baptist Church. Other non-profit representatives where on hand but no others got up to speak on the matter.
One of the biggest issues that have come up from the representatives is that many churches have several buildings with restrooms or kitchens, each with their own separate connections, but the usage is limited compared with other businesses or even homes.
Linda Brubaker spoke on behalf of St Elizabeth’s Catholic Church, “In theory the church agrees with following the ordinance but would also like to know, since St Elizabeth’s has four buildings, could they be grandfathered in? It is true the Catholic Church has a lot of money but St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church does not.”
Seeber explained to Brubaker that, in accordance with the ordinance, each connection must be billed separately.
Churches are not the only non-profit organizations to be hit by the billing, the Lions Club and the museum will also began paying for water and sewer as well.
At the February meeting the council renewed its leases with both non-profits. Paul Brunkow, president of the Lions Club attended the February meeting and told council, “I noticed in the lease agreement you included the water and sewer utilities. Because we are non-profit that is going to really cut into the work we do.”
Brunkow added, “The Lions Club keeps the building up with maintenance, we fixed the heat pump, repaired the roof and we keep the grounds. This is a considerable expense. The building is only used about three to four times a month and the bathroom is hardly used.”
“The days of mowing the lawn in exchange for paying water and sewer are over,” Councilman Gary Seeber said.
Seeber is chair of Public Works Committee and has been wrestling with this issue since it came to light.
The town will began billing non-profits for the third quarter of 2013. Bills will be mailed on June 1 and will be delinquent after June 30.