MELROSE — City officials and representatives of Melrose’s various condominium associations sat down last week to talk water and sewer rates.
On Wednesday, October 1, in a morning meeting in City Hall, the condo residents asked those who are in charge of setting Melrose’s water and sewer rates to consider assessing them at a lower tier than is currently done.
In a petition, the condo owners asked that all condominium buildings served by master meters be assessed by averaging each building’s total water usage by the number of units in that building so the condo residents aren’t paying at the top tier, as if they were a commercial entity.
“As an example,” a draft of the petition stated, “if the city were to divide a 30 unit condominium by 30 it would reveal that the water usage for that entire building would not exceed (the average residential) consumption rate and the city should therefore bill that condominium association” as if it was a single family residence.
“Further, the city of Melrose needs to promote fairness among condominium consumers and treat these users with the same formula as single family homes. Presently condominiums are paying approximately 40 percent more for their combined water” at the highest tier rate. “This means that a combined $20,000 annual water/sewer bill for an association will be reduced by $8,000, if residential billing were properly applied.”
While the city’s Water/Sewer Rate Commission disputed some of the facts, members pledged to continue to investigate the situation. According to one condo association representative, the debate last week was very open and both sides were able to get their points across.
The condo residents’ petition continued, “Our argument is that
1. Presently all condominiums in the city of Melrose are assessed using a market approach similar to residential home assessment, not an income approach typically applied to commercial properties.
2. Condominiums are similar in square footage dimensioning to many ranch-style homes.
3. Condominiums pay similar yearly taxes as do residential homes.
4. Master metered condominium buildings are charged the higher (tier) water rate for no apparent reason.
“Petitioners are not asking the city of Melrose to lose water/sewer income by charging condominium owners the residential rate, but are asking the city to equitably distribute water costs among ALL its customers.
“We are asking that all master metered properties be treated not with special consideration but with fairness in the market place.”
The condo residents’ group referenced a precedent set in 2010 by the town of Natick, which adopted averaging of master metered condominiums for its residents.
Accompanying the petition was a partial list of residential condominiums associations paying the highest tier rate in Melrose
• Mt. Vernon Condominiums, 30 units
• Villa Cordoba Condominiums, 31 units
• 340 Main St. Condominiums, 70 units
• Franklin Manor Condominiums, 80 units
• Station Crossing Condominiums, 48 units
• Melrose Towers Condominiums, 176 units
• Brick Stone Park Condominiums
• Highlands Condominiums
• Mountain Home Condominiums, 6 units
• Town Homes At Sylvan Condominiums, 4 units
• Undercliff Terrace Condominiums, 18 units
• 594 Franklin St. Condominiums, 11 units
• 10 Ingalls Court Condominiums, 6 units
• 306 Main St. The Ionic Condominiums, 13
• 314 Main St. The Colonial Condominiums, 7 units
• 12 West Wyoming Ave., 4 units
• Mark VII Melrose Condos , 26 units
• Wyoming House Condo, 11 units
This partial list totaled 541 units.