By Grace Moore
Darcy Sams requested a variance from the town council on Monday for the commercial water bills on the two rental properties she owns within to
Since November of 2016, when the town started to enforce the ordinance, she said, “Our water bill essentially quadrupled…I don’t think those costs should be born upon people who are trying to provide housing. I don’t think it’s right that some of us who have two bedroom/one bath apartment buildings be held responsible for paying for something that’s been going on.”
Sams asked for the procedure to change such an ordinance. Councilman Owen Mathews responded, “The reason the town of Moorcroft, with the budget cuts across the state, has not been impacted like a lot of other communities is because, in the last several years, we have taken the steps to make our system pay for itself.”
Mathews explained that changing the municipal law to allow a number of people to abstain from paying what they owe would force the remaining customers to carry that debt as well as their own obligation.
He acknowledged, “It hurts and makes things difficult for homeowners and business owners. If there’s a change, we have to be careful that when we do it, it’s repeatable and fair to everybody.”
Sams admitted that, “the logical answer would be to tell my tenants that the water bill went up and their rent is going to go up $100 a month, but I can’t do that; I’ve been checking on rent in Gillette and you can rent a three bedroom, two bathroom trailer house with a yard for $600 a month and that’s what I charge. I just can’t raise my rents”.
She added that she rents to single mothers and does not feel right raising their rent, “even at the risk of losing the money that I have”.
Having been in the same situation, Mayor Pro Tem Paul Smoot advised her that, while he had not at the time appreciated the position in which he found himself either, “The fact of the matter is I did talk to my residents. They read the paper and knew what was coming. I told them I was going to have to raise their rent $100.”
He stated that he, too, is renting to a young mother and advised her to seek assistance from the state and, with approved assistance, the family was able to get their rent reduced by half. The variance was not granted.