Discovery Bay Residents Hit With Water Meter Bills

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Sample of Bond Interest Payback Scenarios

Over the past week, many residents of the Town of Discovery Bay took to social media expressing their displeasure and surprise when they received their water meter bill.

The construction began back in February of 2017 and according to the Town of Discovery Bay website, as of December 31, 2017, a total of 3,496 meters have been installed.

A letter (dated April 13) was sent to home owners informing them of their Water Installation Bill stating the project was complete and the cost to each water meter was calculated based on specifications of the installation of the meter(s) at each specific property.

Residents were given two options:

  • Option 1: Pay the cost of the meter installation in full and received by the Town on or before May 15, 2018, or:
  • Option 2:  Finance the cost of the meter installation, with interest, over a ten-year period billed on your monthly water utility bill. Please note that the exact amount of interest cannot be determined at this time, because bond interest is shared among the number of financing (Option 2) participants.

Prepayment after May 15, 2018 will not avoid or offset the full amount of interest due

Some residents, are curious why each home is getting a different cost for each meter.

According to Town Manager Mike Davies, residents are getting different costs because each property is different and some installations are more difficult than others.

“There are different construction types, meter sizes and box sizes.  Some properties had extra work done in the form of obstructions that were charged to the homeowner,” said Davies.

When asked why not distribute the cost across all homes and share the cost equity, Davies explained that was the plan, however, the public didn’t want that.

“A total of 3496 Meters were installed.  In January of 2017 the public stated they did not want to share the overall cost and pay the same amount (estimated at $906),” said Davies. “The public demanded that each house be separately charged for the work performed on that property.”

Davies stated outreach has been ongoing since January of 2017.


FAQ: Water Meter Installation Cost and Billing Frequently Asked Questions

Q. When will I receive my bill?
A. Letters were mailed to property owners on or before April 13, 2018. The letter provides the cost of the meter installation specific to the designated service property and gives two options for payment. A sample letter can be found at: https://www.todb.ca.gov/site/main/files/2018-04-12_water_meter_letter_to_owners_sample.pdf
Q. How is the price of the meter installation determined?
A. The price of the water meter installation is the actual cost to install the meter at your
specific property. The price includes the cost of products, construction, installation,
management and other associated costs.
Q. Will the Town make a profit or generate revenue from the water meter installation
charge?
A. No. The Town makes no profit or revenue. The actual cost to the Town is the actual cost that is being charged to the customer.
Q. Why are some customers being billed a higher or lower rate than me?
A. The cost of water meter installation is specific to each property. Differences in cost can
be the result of differing products used (example: box and meter size), complexity of
construction, and any extra work due to special conditions unique to the service property, such as removal of obstructions.
Q. What options do I have in paying my bill?
A. Under Option 1 you can pay your bill in full if received by the Town on or before May 15,
2018. Under Option 2 you can pay your bill with interest over a 10-year period.
Q. Can I pay my water meter installation bill in full?
A. Yes. This is known as Option 1. Simply detach the coupon at the bottom of your billing letter and send with your check made payable for the full amount to the Town of Discovery Bay, 1800 Willow Lake Road, Discovery Bay, CA 94505. The Town must receive your payment by May 15, 2018 to avoid being automatically enrolled in a 10-year payment plan
with interest (Option 2).
Q. Can I pay my water meter installation bill over time?
A. Yes. This is known as Option 2. Simply do nothing and you will automatically be
enrolled in the 10-year payment plan. The 10-year plan is the combination of a 3-year
interest free loan that runs concurrent with a 10-year loan with interest. Your monthly
payment will first appear on your August 2018 water bill. Payoff will occur in July 2028.
Q. How is the interest calculated for the Option 2 payments over time?
A. The water meter installation project was funded through a combination of
Town reserves and a 10-year $1.5 million-dollar bond. Total interest on the bond is $398,001.67. This amount will be divided by the number of customers who do not pay off the full amount by May 15, 2018 (Option 1).
Q. If I am enrolled in Option 2 can I later prepay the balance to avoid the remaining interest charges?
A. No. After May 15, 2018 you will not be able to pay off the balance of your water meter
installation charge to avoid paying your remaining balance of interest. You can pay off
the balance of your water meter installation charge, but you must also pay off the full
balance of the interest. Since all Option 2 customers share in paying off the total bond
interest charged to the Town, the customer’s balance of the interest still needs
to be satisfied.
Q. With the Option 2 payment plan is the interest amount amortized with a higher interest payment at the beginning of the loan with gradual lower payments toward the end of the loan, such as with a car loan or mortgage?
A. No. The monthly interest payment stays the same each month until payoff in July 2028.
Q. What is my monthly interest payment if I pay over time (Option 2)?
A. It depends on the number of customers who are in Option 2. The bond interest of $398,001.67 will be divided by the number of customers who are in Option 2. The number of customers in Option 2 will not be known until the number of customers who pay in full (Option 1) can be determined. The deadline for Option 1 is May 15, 2018.
Q. What is meant by a combo loan of 3-years interest free and 10-years with interest?
A. The water meter installation project was funded by a combination of Town reserves
and a $1.5 million bond. The Town Board decided that payback of reserves should be
interest free to customers over a 3-year period and that the payback of the bond and
its interest should be paid by customers over a 10-year period. Customer’s monthly
bills will be higher the first 3-years (two loans in effect) and lower the last 7-years (one
loan in effect).
Q. With Option 2 will the 3-year loan and the 10-year loan show up a separate line items on my water bill?
A. Due to software limitations, the 3-year loan and 10-year loan will be combined as a
single charge and line item on your water bill.
Q. Can I pay my water meter installation bill in full using a credit or debit card?
A. No. We are only able to process payments in full by check, cashier’s check, or money
order.
Q. Can I pay my water meter installation bill in full using cash?
A. No. We are only able to process payments in full by check, cashier’s check, or money
order.
Q. If I pay for my water meter installation bill over time (Option 2), can I pay by credit or
debit card?
A. Yes. With Option 2 your water meter installation payment amount will appear on your
water usage bill as a separate line item. Your total monthly bill is your water meter
usage amount plus the water meter installation charge. You can pay your monthly bill by
credit or debit ca rd by using Express Bill Pay. You can sign up for Express Bill Pay here:
https://www.xpressbillpay.com/#/
Q. What do I do if I have more questions?
A. You can call the Town at 925-634-1131 during normal business hours.

 


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1 COMMENT

  1. If I am paying for the meter do I own it? PG&E does not charge the customer the cost of the meter (gas or electric). It is their cost and their property.
    By paying for the meter and it’s install I now own the meter and wish to bill Discovery Bay for using it to meter my water. A fair price to use my new meter is $10/ month.

    My company installs wet utilities for public agencies, one of your inspectors has worked for me in the past and I have done work on the Sanitary Sewer facility operated by the Town. I am very familiar with the cost of the meter, the box it sits in, and the cost to connect it. The $777 you have billed me is fair for those, now I own it. Lets talk about the back rental for Discovery Bay using my new meter.

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