Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Why Subsidize Rental Property Water Meter Installation?

Last weekend the Herald ran an article (click here to read it) on the 2003 Washington State mandate to install water meters at single family homes by 2017. It is now 2008 and the city seems to have no installation plan although one is due in July 2008. There is a voluntary program sponsored by the city whereby a homeowner can have a meter installed by the city for $150. As of 2006 about 75 single family homeowners had signed up for the program. Perhaps more have signed up since then but overall it is not promising for reaching 100% participation by 2017.

The Herald article points out that the cost for the voluntary metering program (click here to read the report) is heavily subsidized by the city (that means you taxpayers). The real cost of placement of these meters is around $300 to $600 or 100-400% more than the cost to the homeowner. However, since about half of the unmetered single family homes (15,000 flat rate customers) are putative rentals, that means that the city (again, you as a taxpayer) is subsidizing those properties which are being used as money generating entities by landlords, some of whom do not even live in the city. If the city charged all rental property owners the full rate for meter installation, it would receive at least $2,250,000 at the low end ($300 per installation). High end ($600 per meter) would bring in considerably more. Furthermore, after meter installation the true water consumption costs would be passed on to the consumer, i.e., the renters.

The city requires metering for properties involved in commercial enterprises. Why should rental properties be treated any differently? Why should you, as a taxpayer, subsidize landlords in their income producing pursuits? Why should an illegal rooming house with 4, 5, 6, 7 or more renters be charged at the same rate as the live-in property owner/family?


Anonymous said...

If the state mandated this then the state should pay for it. That means our taxes should pay for it. Sounds like another industry pushed legislation just like the mandatory insurance law.

Terry said...

Owner-occ and rental properties should be charged the same.

No subsidies for anybody.

I wouldn't be strongly opposed to some sort of low-income subsidy or deferral (as are often extended to low-income elderly homeowners), but I believe properties/owners should generally be charged equally.

p.s. I'm enjoying the content here with the occasional chuckle thrown in...unwilling sponges...putative I'm actively looking for more.