Pushroot Community Garden’s Monty Hettich speaks with the council. Joshua Scheer photo.

(Lander, Wyo.) – With the first bills reflecting the new water and sewer rates in Lander having hit mail boxes earlier this week, Clerk Robin Griffin and Treasurer Charri Lara told the Lander City Council that staff has been fielding quite a few calls from angry customers.

The city changed the way it bills for water and sewer services through a lengthy discussion and vote process starting in September 2013 and ending December 2013. The new rates went into effect for January 2014.

Lara said many of the people calling aren’t believing they used as much water or sewer as the bills say they have. Part of the reasoning behind the rate structure was that it would make people were pay for what they use rather than get a large allowance under a flat rate. “They’re actually having to pay for it now,” she said, “so they’re looking at their usage.”

The main purpose behind the rate changes and increases was to cover debt service for upcoming infrastructure projects. For more details about the changes, read this story.

The council was given notice that at least one business that had a $1,900 bill will be asking next week to have the amount comped because either there was a leak they didn’t know about or the meter was faulty. City staff said they were confident the meter was accurate.

Griffin asked the council to consider possible policies for how to handle reported leaks. Currently, the city allows for paying up to $100 for overages if the leak was caused by a break in the service line.

Additionally, the council opted not to help cover part of the Pushroot Community Garden’s bill. The city’s attorney, Don Legerski, said it is illegal for the city to give away its assets.