By Tiffany Pelt - email
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – The city of Slaton is threatening to shut off water to more than a hundred residents at the Slaton Mobile Home Park, because the owner hasn't paid more than $25,000 in past due water bills.
Residents came home yesterday to find red notices on their doors warning them their water would be shut off this Friday and to take necessary precautions. Every mobile home in the park shares the same water meter, and each resident pays a flat lot rate that includes water.
"I'm a little bit confused as how they can do that. We paid our rent which is supposed to include water; we met our obligation, so how can the city deny us water. We don't owe the city a water bill," said Gene Robinson, Slaton Mobile Home Park resident.
Mobile home park owner Kenny Shipley said it's all a misunderstanding and that he shouldn't have to pay the money the city is asking for. Shipley said last June a city employee was working on the water meter and he wasn't licensed to do so. Ever since then, even with occupancy at the park decreasing, Shipley said his water bills started to skyrocket.
Shipley continues to pay his water bill on time each month; however he only pays the amounts shown on his 2008 bills for each month, because that was before the meter was worked on. He believes those bills are a more accurate amount because the meter was tampered with and wasn't installed to factory specifications. Since then, Shipley has racked up $25,514 in past due bills.
"It seems like they're penalizing the residents here for whatever conflict they have with the owner," said Robinson.
The city said they tested the meter and that it's working properly. City officials said the readings are correct which means Shipley really does owe the money, but as the city and owner battle over the issue.
"If you've ever been without water you find out how valuable water is. You can't live without it, and the thought of having it turned off not knowing when or if it'll get turned back on is very frustrating," said Robinson.
Shipley said he will do everything in his power to make sure his tenants continue to have water, even if it means filing an injunction to stop the city or coming up with the money.
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