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Call Kurtis: Water District Charging New Inactive Fees To Customers Not Using Water

RIO LINDA (CBS13) — A Call Kurtis investigation found the troubled Rio Linda/Elverta Water District started charging some customers for water, they can't use.

We call on Kurtis now, with what's happened since his investigation.

As we've reported, this district has been plagued with scandal including mismanagement of money.

We exposed how the board may not have followed state law when it started charging customers who don't even have water hooked up.

"They're holding me hostage with this thing really," said Chris Kapic, Rio Linda resident.

Chris disconnected his water service more than four years ago. He's got his own well.

Joel Diones had one of his two meters on his property disconnected too.

"You can see, there's no pipe there," said Joel.

They and their neighbors say the Rio Linda/Elverta Community Water District started billing them "standby water fees" in November just in case they ever wanted the water turned back on.

The bills ranged from $62 to $782, depending on the size of their meters.

"It's crazy because you can't pay for something you don't get," said Joel.

But our investigation uncovered, the water district may not have followed the law, when its board voted to pass these new bi-monthly fees to help pay off some loans.

Attorney Tim Bittle with the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association says California's constitution requires agencies to inform property owners of proposed fees by mail, include a ballot and hold a public hearing within 45 days.

"They didn't take any steps.  They just passed the resolution and sent out bills," said Bittle.

After our story, the water district scrapped its standby fees.

But now, Chris has been hit with a new charge called an "inactive water service fee" that will cost $63.33 every other month.

"What they did is change the name, as far as I know," said Chris.

The water district's general manager, Mary Henrici, says this fee was approved in March of 2011 during a public board meeting.

"There was public notice in the newspaper. Everyone that currently was on at the time was given notice in their bill also," said Henrici.

Chris says he knew nothing of this hearing two years ago and he doesn't think he should pay for water he doesn't use.

"I'm pretty much roped into doing this.  I'm being forced to do this, to pay this fee," said Chris.

Customers who have two meters on their property with one connected, like Joel, will not have to pay the inactive water fee.

Anyone who does not have water hooked up at all, will have to pay it.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is now looking to see if this fee was legally passed.

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