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Fighting Water Rate Increase In Lavon Could Cost Customers

LAVON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Some Collin County residents living in Lavon say their ongoing battle to fight increasing water rates just took a turn for the worse.

"I used to water four times a week and now I water twice a week,"Cathy Halbert said. "I had to cut back. I can't afford $130 water bill."

Cathy Halbert isn't alone.

"My water bill for one adult household with two children shouldn't be $139," Carisa Olmstead said.

"We have a lot to gripe about," Deborah Fato said.

Lavon in Collin County
Lavon in Collin County (CBS 11)

Fato told CBS 11, last December Bear Creek Special Utility District customers were notified the cost of treated water was increasing by 5% and an extra $10 would be tacked on to their base fee.

She said the only way to contest the increase is to file an appeal with the Public Utilities Commission of Texas.

A petition is needed.

"You have to get 10% of the rate payers to sign a petition that says we request that the public utilities commission review the decision of the board of directors," Fato said. "I took it upon my little, old paralegal of 38 years self to single-handedly lead a petition action this year."

Fato got the signatures she needed and filed an appeal.

"Leading that petition action won me popularity enough among the people of Lavon to vote me on to the Board of Directors in the May election," Fato said.

In Bear Creek's October bill, a rate appeal update.

"It just incited all kinds of anger among the rate payers," Fato said.

To pay to fight the appeal, the board warned customers they could foot $63.61 each.

"This expense must be funded through the district's rate revenue and may result in an increase in rates,"Olmstead said, reading the bill aloud.

"The $63.61 would be a one time only charge, but the SUD cannot impose that charge on us unless and until they incur that expense," Fato says.

In a statement to CBS 11, an attorney representing Bear Creek, Kristen Fancher, said, "The information was provided in customer bills in an effort to be transparent and inform the customers of the budget increase."

"I am a realtor and it's nuts," Halbert said. "I've never seen this anywhere else."

Several of the Lavon residents plan on attending a town hall meeting tomorrow night to voice their concerns. An attorney representing the water company will be in attendance.

"Out efforts to mediate petition action rather than take it to trial are an effort to keep attorney fees to a minimum," Fato said.

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