FARR WEST -- Heritage Ranch owner Andy Fishburn came to a recent city council meeting to request an adjustment on his sewer utility fee.
He said the 150 horses he boards at Heritage Ranch drink 80 percent of his water usage, and only about 20 percent of the water goes back into the sewer system. He said this is just the opposite of other water users who, on average, put 80 percent of the water back down the drain and absorb only 20 percent.
Fishburn stated each horse drinks approximately 20 gallons of water a day. He said the bill of $182 he received for one month was not a fair estimate.
"You're telling me the horses are only drinking water and it's not used for washing vehicles or horses?" Councilman Tim Shupe asked.
Shupe also said Fishburn had no verifiable data to back up his claim about the percentage of water use.
"Do you expect the city to continue paying your water bill?" Shupe said.
Shupe also said the city had never received a payment from Heritage Ranch for the sewer utility fee.
Councilman Boyd Ferrin said the sewer at the ranch had been hooked up, albeit illegally, and was never recorded. In a later phone conversation, Ferrin said the city had never billed Fishburn for the storm sewer fee over an eight-year period, and the city had never received a payment on it. He said he was unsure how the oversight of the hook-up and bill occurred in the first place.
Ferrin reiterated that Fishburn had never been billed and said, in spite of this, the city has no plans to go back and request payment for all those years.
Mayor Lee Dickemore said the city is currently charging Heritage Ranch the same for water as it would any other business. He said if Fishburn would like to bring in data to show less water use than he is billed for, he can do that and bring it back before the council.
Resident Lou Best pointed out that the city has two large dairy operations, Chuggs and Papageorge's, and although they are watering livestock, they are charged the same as any other business.