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Some restaurants want Jefferson to charge less for water taps

POSTED: December 26, 2008 5:00 a.m.

JEFFERSON — One size fits all may work for some things, but when it comes to water tap service fees, Jefferson officials have discovered that a more specific payment schedule is needed.

Jefferson officials are researching the possibility of adjusting the formula used to calculate the water tap fees for the different types of restaurants in the western portion of the city.

"The purpose of the tap fee is to recoup the costs the city put into adding water (services) in that area," said Jeff Killip, Jefferson’s public works director. "We’re going to look at the current fees and make sure that what we are charging is fair. We don’t want to scare away businesses, but we don’t want to give away services, either."

The existing formula for restaurants doesn’t differentiate between the various types of eating establishments. Thus, a restaurant that primarily services drive-through customers is charged the same fee as a sit-down restaurant that uses a substantially higher amount of water.

In order to determine how much of a tap fee a restaurant should pay, city officials divide the number of seats in a restaurant by two and multiply that figure by $600, the base rate for the consumption of one Equivalent Resident Unit. An ERU is the measurement for every 100 gallons of water used per day.

"We’ve got several restaurants wanting to come into that area, and they have asked us to revisit the water tap fees," Killip said. "With the current formula, we have some fast-food restaurants that would have to pay in excess of $20,000. Some of those businesses have asked us to revisit the water tap fees."

David Gillespie, who is building a Dairy Queen restaurant on Panther Drive, is one of the business owners who brought the inequities of the current formula to the attention of the Jefferson City Council.

"Unlike full service restaurants, (quick-service restaurants) serve all of their products in disposable containers. This eliminates the constant cycle of washing reusable plates and utensils on a regular basis, which cuts water and energy usage significantly," Gillespie said to the council in a written request for an exemption from the current water tap fees.

"Unlike full service restaurants, approximately 10 percent of all inside (quick service restaurant) customers take their food orders to go. This further eliminates beverage/ice refills and inside seating cleanup, adding to water savings as well."

Although the council discussed the possible need for an amendment to the water tap fees at its last work session, no changes have been proposed, and no action will be taken when the group holds its voting session on Monday.



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