City leaders in Garden Ridge are scrambling to fix a water rate increase that left residents shocked when they opened their bills.
Residents, including Rodger Apolinar, packed into the city council meeting on Tuesday to get answers to their frustrations. Apolinar received a water bill of $1,636.52. According to the City of Garden Ridge Water Department bill statement, he used 101,000 gallons of water during a one-month period.
Apolinar said it simply doesn’t add up. He finds it hard to believe that he and his wife can use that much water. He says he has a water irrigation system in place and it’s set to water the lawn twice a week.
KENS 5 reviewed Apolinar’s bills and compared the same month dating back to 2017. We found the following:
In 2017, his water bill states 40,000 gallons of water were used, that’s equal to 950 bathtubs and his bill totaled $212.
In 2018, 77,000 gallons = 2,000 bathtubs, his payment $600
In 2019, 101,000 gallons = 2,500 bathtubs, his bill $1,636.
In other words, his usage went up about 25% since last year, but his bill more than doubled.
During the city council meeting, Garden Ridge Mayor Larry Thompson claimed fault in the oversight of the water rate increase.
"To all of us, and I didn't pick up on it,” Thompson said. “The rate didn't look like it was going up that much, and it's just that simple. It was a mistake, my mistake."
He said during the meeting council members voted on a water bill increase based on an expert’s advice. After listening to residents, the city council voted to keep a $2 increase, reissue bills at the previous rate and issue locals who paid their bill a credit.
Apolinar said his wife sent in the payment to the water company to avoid a penalty fee. He said the water company told him his big bill is due to a water leak, but he said he’s checked and hasn’t found a problem. Apolinar believes his water meter may be broken.
He said he doesn’t want a credit, he wants his money back.
KENS 5 reached out to the mayor and asked if cash refunds were being considered, but we did not receive a response.
According to an email sent by Thompson, a meeting is scheduled for October to discuss a water bill increase for next year. In the meantime, the old rates will be applied through December.
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