Beset with problems with the water system and the financial burden associated with the costs to make needed repairs, the Opheim Town Council, on Nov. 11, 2013, ordered that the base rate for water (no charge for amount of water used) be increased from $50 to $60 per month, or 20 percent. This is entirely reasonable as users should expect to pay for any services provided for their benefit.
However, included in this same order was a provision that the turn-on fee be increased from $50 to $125 and the turn-off fee be increased from zero to $125. Together these two fees amount to a 400 percent increase. These two fees would apply mainly to those who leave for the winter and turn the water off to prevent freezing.
In my particular case, I usually try to spend two months in Montana, mainly in Opheim in the summer, working on my house and cutting grass. Adding on $75 per month for sewer and water service would cost me another $150 for the two months, or a total of $400 for someone wishing to spend some vacation time in Opheim.
Although this action, as written by the Opheim Town Council, would potentially affect all water users in Opheim, it actually affects, or will affect, a very small percentage, probably five or fewer users.
To me, this $250 turn-on, turn-off fee is blatantly discriminatory, singling out older senior citizens who are more likely to leave for the colder months.
Incidentally, I do not participate in this turn-on, turn-off scheme, but haul my water from Billings or Glasgow, or borrow it from friends in Opheim. The good news in this matter is that this measure was approved on Veterans Day, thereby honoring those of us who are affected by this. Thank you, Opheim Town Council.
Walter S. Lewis