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F.S. 180.13 is the only statute that addresses "entities" of…

Customer Question
F.S. 180.13 is the only...
F.S. 180.13 is the only statute that addresses "entities" of any kind that provide water and sewer services to a particular area of Florida. 180.13(2) says ... ... (the entity by whatever name known) ...MAY establish just and equitable rates or charges to be paid for the use...
Scenario: This situation now exists in parts of Florida.
1. Entity X establishes a water rate for residential use, (be it single family or Multi-family), based on quantity use and size of water meter. Entity X charges more for quantity use of water per Multi-Family unit than for single family quantity use.
2. Entity B establishes a water rate for residential use (Be it single or Multi-family) based on quantity use and number of users, not size of water meter.
3. In addition each entity adds a number referred to as Base rate to each user's invoice.
4. Entity 1's customers point to the substantial difference in pricing of quantity use and scream "FOUL". They say the costs are not being distributed in a "just and equitable" manner.
5. Entity 1's experts respond that the overall cost to both categories of residential users is approximately the same (which is true). That occurs if one adjusts the base rate to Entity 2's system of charging individual units the same base charge per unit as opposed to a flat rate per meter size. (That too is true).
6. Entity 1's customers are not impressed. They want to sue the City on the grounds that the billing is unfair on its face. That Entity 1 cannot retrospectively increase one part of the bill in order to compensate for another which is unfair on its face.
Questions:
1. Since the Statute uses the word MAY as opposed to SHALL, the first response might well be: Entity 1 has no LEGAL obligation to charge just and equitable rates. Could that fly?
2. The second argument would be that since the "overall" cost to the same type consumer (residential), remains about the same, Entity 1 has met whatever obligation MAY have been imposed upon it by 180.13 (2). Could that fly?
3. Finally, unless there is some universally accepted system of calculating so-called "base rates" (that I have not found), a rate that might well cost much more to one group of users as a result of the lesser costs to the Entity of providing the service, (fewer meters, cheaper delivery infrastructure, less service supervision, etc), it would be very hard to argue that charging all residential customers an "effective" same, of very similar rate, should not be acceptable. Do you agree?
Submitted: 5 months ago.Category: Business Law
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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Since nobody has seen fit to answer, I would like Ray to give it a try. I know it is not an easy question.
My own view is that questions 1 # 2 could fly and that # 3 is correct.
An answer of Maybe, possibly or probably is the best anyone can say.
If that is correct, then I will realize there is no clear answer. That would consitute progress.
Answered in 6 days by:
11/26/2017
Business Lawyer: RayAnswers, Attorney replied 5 months ago
RayAnswers
RayAnswers, Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 46,425
Experience: I have 30 years as a business lawyer in Texas
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Hi and welcome to JA. Ray here to help you today.Please bear with me a few moments while I review your question and respond.

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Business Lawyer: RayAnswers, Attorney replied 5 months ago

1. Since the Statute uses the word MAY as opposed to SHALL, the first response might well be: Entity 1 has no LEGAL obligation to charge just and equitable rates. Could that fly?

It is possible to sue here claiming the rates are unequal.The may rather than must makes it harder but it's possible to try and argue on its face it is unfair and discriminatory toward some .

2. The second argument would be that since the "overall" cost to the same type consumer (residential), remains about the same, Entity 1 has met whatever obligation MAY have been imposed upon it by 180.13 (2). Could that fly?

That would be the best argument for the entity here.

3. Finally, unless there is some universally accepted system of calculating so-called "base rates" (that I have not found), a rate that might well cost much more to one group of users as a result of the lesser costs to the Entity of providing the service, (fewer meters, cheaper delivery infrastructure, less service supervision, etc), it would be very hard to argue that charging all residential customers an "effective" same, of very similar rate, should not be acceptable. Do you agree?

Yes I do.If it makes you feel better whee I live they charge us a higher out of city rate and use the money for general revenue for a city I don't live in but it has not been successfully challenged.To me the statute is vaguely worded and likely watered down it would be hard to prevail here.It is hard to show any violation a different rate for different folks doesn't necessarily mean they can successfully sue.

I appreciate the chance to help you today.Thanks again and thanks for rating 5 stars.

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