OC Adjusts Water Billing Issue

OCEAN CITY — In the interest of recouping potentially lost revenue from water and wastewater billing, resort officials this week adjusted the fixture count on which water bills are based for the various mobile home parks in Ocean City.

The town uses two basic methods for determining water and sewer usage in the resort’s residential areas. The first is simple water consumption, wherein the property owners are billed for the water they actually consume. However, because of the seasonal nature of the resort, which goes from around 7,000 residents in the winter to over 200,000 in the height of summer, the water consumption method is not always reliable all year long.

The second method for water and sewer billing utilized by the town is a fixture count. A typical residence might have six fixtures including three in bathrooms, a kitchen sink, a dishwasher and a washing machine, for example. In the case of the resort’s four mobile home parks, there is one water meter for the entire residential complex and each mobile home park’s association or management pays the overall bill and then bills the individual property owners based on their number of fixtures. It’s a similar formula used on many condominiums, for example.

However, it has come to light recently the fixture counts in many of the resort’s mobile home parks have gone up and the billing mechanism has not been adjusted in kind. In many of the parks, the traditional mobile homes that existed when the formula was derived have long since been expanded, remodeled or removed and replaced altogether, resulting in more plumbing fixtures.

When a mobile home is renovated, expanded or replaced, a new fixture count is recorded and the billing is adjusted accordingly. However, the new fixture counts are not always resulting in adjusted billing for city water and sewer. In three of the city’s four mobile home parks, the water and sewer billing is based on the assumption of four fixtures, while in the other, the assumption is five fixtures.

During Tuesday’s work session, the council voted 6-0 (with Councilman John Gehrig absent) to increase the base line number of fixtures to six and begin to assess water and sewer billing based on that number. Some mobile homes might have less than six and there will be opportunity for those homeowners to show the water and sewer billing department that and have their bills adjusted accordingly. Others might have at least six or maybe more after they are expanded and replaced and the city will now have a mechanism to ensure those are billed properly.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.