City to absorb Holland water fees

Published 9:41 pm Thursday, August 21, 2014

After reviewing correspondence sent to Holland residents about their water supply and meeting in a closed session on the topic, City Council voted Wednesday to absorb fees related to the extension of city-treated water to the village.

Councilman Jeffrey Gardy made the motion to direct the city manager to find about $196,000 in the budget to cover the $1,060 in fees the city informed Holland households this year they would each owe.

The city spent $12.7 million to extend water mains to Holland to comply with an order from the Virginia Department of Health to resolve high fluoride levels in the city-owned well there. Service was connected April 1.

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The city informed residents in March of the fee after initially saying in a 2012 letter, “As part of the project, the city will connect all existing customers to the new water main at no cost to the customers.”

People who didn’t pay the fee, the city informed them, could make arrangements for a five-year payment plan, which would include interest and a lien on their home.

Residents held a meeting two weeks ago about the fee and other issues regarding the water system. Though they didn’t invite Gardy or city officials, they found out and showed up anyway.

Deputy City Manager Patrick Roberts said afterward the city would review its correspondence to the citizens.

Councilman Mike Duman said before Wednesday’s unanimous vote that he believed the letter was referring only to the connection fee, not to environmental and other fees. Even so, he said, “I think the proper thing to do would be absorb the auxiliary fees as well.”