Developer seeking tap fee refund


By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Sunday, January 13, 2019

CAMDEN — A developer says Camden County should refund the $24,000 he paid in water tap fees since he installed the water connections in his subdivision himself.

Steven Bradshaw, developer of Sandy Hook Crossing, told Camden commissioners last week he didn’t think he would have to pay the county’s water tap fee since he bought his own taps and installed them himself. 

Bradshaw’s request is being reviewed by Camden’s attorney, John Morrison.

The current language in the county’s Unified Development Ordinance states that a developer has to pay all connection fees. The connection fee includes a $1,500 tap fee plus a “capacity fee” intended to recoup the county’s costs for providing adequate capacity across its water system.

The county charges connection fees of $4,000 for a 3/4-inch water line, $5,667 for a 1-inch water line and $14,833 for a 2-inch line. Fees continue to rise with larger lines.

Bradshaw said he was charged $24,000 for his 16-lot subdivision on Sandy Hook and Bartlett roads. He said he went ahead and paid the water tap fee, even though he believed he shouldn’t have been charged because he bought and installed the taps himself.

Bradshaw said he believes the way Camden’s water tap ordinance and fee schedule are written is confusing. He also raised some questions about how current water tap fee revenues are spent.

Bradshaw said that since the capacity fee is charged to ensure Camden has adequate water capacity in the future, revenue from it should be reserved for paying for new lines and upgrades to the system. It should not be spent on maintaining the existing infrastructure, he said.

Maintenance of existing lines is necessary, Bradshaw said, but the capacity fee revenues should be used for things that truly contribute to capacity.

Commissioner Clayton Riggs said he agreed that the county should make sure revenues from the capacity fees go toward improvements to the water system. But Riggs said if the county started refunding tap fees there would be people lined up out the door asking for refunds.

County Manager Ken Bowman said that maintenance is a legitimate use of capacity fee revenues because maintenance is one component of ensuring adequate water capacity.

Morrison said he would review the information Bradshaw provided to commissioners and make a recommendation to the board.

Commissioner Garry Meiggs said he wanted to hear the recommendation from Morrison before making any comment about Bradshaw’s request.