Officials in Combes, Texas, scrambled last week to assure residents of the Carefree Valley Mobile Home and RV Resort that they won’t be facing immediate rental increases to cover higher charges for water service.
Mayor Silver Garcia told about 30 residents of the Rio Grande Valley resort who attended a Sept. 29 meeting that town officials will do everything possible to prevent the 331-site park from closing, or to prevent park residents from moving out, according to the Brownsville Herald.
“We want it to continue operation if possible,” the mayor said of the RV park formerly named Country Boy RV Park. “We don’t want to be losing you. We don’t want businesses to be closing in Combes.”
The city is near Harlingen and is a popular spot for “Winter Texans” six months of the year.
Combes had not increased water rates since 1999, the mayor said. But during budget discussions this year, the Combes Board of Aldermen decided to raise the rates to bring them up to date, Garcia said.
The town of Combes entered into an agreement with park owners so that the increase will be paid by the owners, but not passed along to residents, at least for now, Garcia said.
Park residents pay water, sewer and trash pickup fees as part of their rent, he said.
It may be possible in the future for the city to take over the water system inside the park and to assume street maintenance, but the streets must be dedicated as city streets, the mayor said. Also, the city would have to buy individual water meters and install them and eventually recover those costs, he said.
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The mayor said that as part of the agreement, the ordinance covering trailer park water rates was amended. Now, instead of billing the park based on readings of one water meter for the whole park, city officials and park owners have agreed to a compromise, Town Secretary Aida Gutierrez said.
The city will bill the park at $9.25 a month for each lot for water and $9.25 for sewer for all 331 lots in the winter, but only charge for occupied lots in the six-month off-peak season, she said.
Sandy Shields, spokeswoman for the Canadian owners of the park, said Carefree Valley has lost about $300,000 over the last five years.
“Our water bills are now $2,000 a month,” she said. If water rates had gone up 100%, as they would have at new metered rates, “we could not continue to operate,” she said.
The compromise rates are based on a minimum of 1,500 gallons used monthly for each lot, town officials said.
Shields said there are no immediate plans to raise rental rates. However, overall costs will have to be reviewed before next year’s season starts to determine if rates will have to be raised, she said.
Some of the park residents attending the meeting said they were planning to move out because they cannot afford increased water and sewer charges.
Carefree Valley Resort Managers Sue and Larry Hart declined to comment on the water rate increase the park will be paying or the park residents’ concerns. But Sue Hart said the monthly rental charges at Carefree Valley are the lowest in the Rio Grande Valley.