City charges less than others its size

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Orange Grove Journal

After conducting research into the current city fees, City Administrator Rick Lopez found the city was undercharging for its services, compared to other communities in the area.

His research was discussed by city council members during a workshop held last week.

"Basically we reviewed our current fees and did a comparison with cities in the area. We found out that we're pretty low on everything," Lopez said.

When looking at water connection fees and sewer fees, they found a large discrepancy between what was charged for the work and what it cost the city.

It currently costs a homeowner $150 to connect to water, according to the city's research, but the parts alone for the connection cost the city $250.

That figure does not include the actual labor involved and the money it costs to use a backhoe for the connection.

Lopez said sewer expenses run about the same, and this is something the council is seriously looking to change.

"We called around on cities in the area," Lopez said. "We're not going as high as some cities, but we're not going to be the lowest either. The city will not be generating money on this, but we will not be losing money as in the past."

The city also looked at reducing the number of days citizens are allowed to go before the city disconnects services. The current limit is 45 days, which Lopez and other council members said is too long.

"We are going to reduce it quite a bit,' Lopez said. "There will also be an increase in the reconnection fee. We're also going to start administering and enforcing a tampering fee, for those people who try to reconnect it."

Those residents who are seeking permits for building projects will also see increases. Although the city is currently planning to keep the plumbing permit the same, Lopez said the electrical and mechanical permit fees would be increasing.

City council members discussed figures during the meeting, Lopez said, but they will still need to be discussed at the next public meeting and approved.