KEY LARGO -- To prevent laundromats from being hit with a high sewer bill, the Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District adopted a policy to charge such businesses as if they were a single-family home.
Other commercial properties pay based on water consumption.
To qualify for the rate of one EDU, or equivalent dwelling unit, the laundry business must simply be open to the public.
District officials, though, are now concerned about a possible problem in that policy. To circumvent higher rates, a hotel or resort with an operating laundry facility onsite could open it to the public, officials noted during last week's board meeting.
At the recently opened Point of View RV Park, an onsite laundromat for tenants is operated by Greg Dowell, who runs the Waldorf Coin Laundry.
During last week's meeting, Key Largo Wastewater Board member Andy Tobin was worried that the RV park could lower its EDU rate by opening the facility to the public.
Jim Saunders, an executive with Bayview Properties which owns the park, was a bit taken aback that his property would be a topic of discussion.
"We follow all of the agendas in the county and we had no idea this issue was going to come up," Saunders said.
The district holds what it calls a "transition meeting" once a month where only a skeleton agenda is made available to the public. Usually at these meetings, board members discuss whatever comes to mind.
Saunders said the RV park's laundry facility was built in coordination with district officials.
The district has not taken the laundromat issue lightly. The board has taken steps to avoid creating a financial hardship for public laundry facilities. The city of Marathon, for instance, doesn't offer a similar break for laundromats, and now the town's only public facility, Maytag Clean Laundry, is faced with closure due to a 19 EDU assessment. Unless a potential buyer acquires the laundromat, owner Donna Farmer said she intends to shutter her business next week rather than pay $40,000 to connect to Marathon's sewer system.
Tobin would like the Key Largo district to adopt language that says if a laundry facility is part of a hotel or RV resort, it should be assessed in the same manner as a commercial development.
The issue was to be discussed at the board's Tuesday, April 23, meeting. Results were not available at press time.