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11-30-04 Fee to tie into Celina water could double

By Sean Rice
srice@dailystandard.com

  A Celina City Council committee recommends nearly doubling the tap-in fees charged for new water line connections to recoup actual costs incurred.

  Utilities committee members voted Monday to increase the tap-in fee from $450 to $700 for a standard 34-inch line.
  Safety-Service Director Jeff Hazel provided the committee with data showing the exact breakdown of parts and manhours needed for each of the four possible types of tap-ins performed by the city water distribution crew.
  A tap-in involves connecting a water main to a lateral line to a water meter. Meters are either place inside the residence or business or in a pit near the street. The cost to the city is at least $550 in parts and time.
  The cost increases if an under-road boring or longer lines are needed.  Hazel said the tap-in fee rates should be separated from the water user rates ordinance, because it is unrelated to user fees. Also, as a legal safeguard, because the tap-in fee section was not carried forward in replacement ordinances that raised residential water rates in 1998 and 2003.
The tap-in charges are paid by home builders and contractors 95 percent of the time, Hazel said.
"I think we should look at these on an annual basis, we do it with employees," member Collin Bryan said of the tap-in fees.
  Hazel agreed the fees should be checked periodically because the cost of metal parts and piping can sway greatly.
  "It's almost a 360 direction from where we've been losing money over the past couple years," Hazel answered Bryan's request for the administration's confidence level in the changes.

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