Town says it can't afford to offer hotel a break on its water, sewer tap costs
By Elizabeth Wilkerson -- firstname.lastname@example.org
WOODSTOCK -- The town cannot afford to offer a new hotel a break on its water and sewer tap fees at this time, officials said Wednesday.
At last week's water and sewer committee meeting, Allon Lefever, owner of the Hampton Inn & Suites at 1150 Motel Drive, said the water and sewer hookup fees for the 92-room hotel are "north of $200,000."
According to information provided by the town, water and sewer access fees for hotels are based on meter size, the number of units and the actual cost of installation. Based on the fee schedule, the hotel would be charged $750 for water access and $1,500 for sewer access for each of its rooms.
Lefever asked that the town's fees be based on the hotel's projected third year stabilized occupancy of 73 percent, which equates to 68 rooms, rather than the total number of rooms.
On Wednesday, the committee met to revisit the hotel's request. Councilwoman Alicia Gutshall said things have changed since the town's 2007 rate study, but officials don't want to make a decision that is based on one situation and not what's best for the town. Also, other customers may ask for something similar, she said.
Mayor Bill Moyers said he'd talked to Town Manager Larry Bradford and Finance Director Mandy Belyea about the impact of reducing the hotel's tap fees. The fees have been factored into the town's budget for next year, he said.
"Times are a little tough for us, too," Moyers said. And, he said, Bradford pointed out that water usage, and therefore water revenue, is down this year.
Councilwoman Jackie Lambert said her thought is if the town reduces the tap fees once, it's going to end up doing it for everyone.
"I think we'd be setting a precedent if we made this decision," Councilman Ed Munden said.
Councilwoman Alma Hottle said she thought Lefever had "put a lot of thought into his hotel" and the town was "certainly for him," but times are hard.
"We didn't come up with the rates just off the top of our heads," said Councilman Arthur White, who leads the committee. "It took a long time to deliberate and agonize all those things."
Bradford said the town had Springsted, a consulting firm, study its monthly rates and hookup fees. White said he'd be in favor of anything that would bring rates down, but the town has to pay for things.
White said he'd be opposed to changing anything now, but would be willing to revisit the rates in the future.
"And, it wasn't like [the hotel] didn't know what the rates were when you came in," he said, though he appreciated the thought that went into the request.
The committee decided to make no recommendation to the council on the issue at this time. Lambert said she thought the group should emphasize that it made that decision "with regret."