The owner of a Texas RV park is preparing to file a lawsuit against the city of Baytown after officials told him they would charge him three times as much for water as most other businesses.
“It amounts to what’s right and what’s wrong,” said Keith Magill, 43, owner of the Casa RV Park in Baytown, about 20 miles east of Houston.
Magill opened the first phase of his 39-space RV park five years ago. At that time, he said he had to fight city hall to get them to understand that an RV park, which caters to overnight campers in RVs, uses less water than a mobile home park, which serves long-term residents living in manufactured homes.
The city wanted to charge Magill the higher water rate that it applies to mobile home parks because it didn’t see the difference between the two kinds of parks. Magill finally convinced the city to charge him the lower rate.
But, unbeknownst to Magill, the city subsequently reversed itself and passed an ordinance requiring RV parks to pay the higher water rate that is applied to mobile home parks. Magill learned of the ordinance this spring, after he completed a 29-space addition to his RV park.
“My water bill should run around $340 a month,” he said. “They want to charge a minimum of $1,050, or three times what it ought to be. They’re roughly charging me for 100,000 gallons of water I don’t even use.
“They keep putting me off and talking in circles,” Magill said of Baytown city officials. Efforts by Woodall’s Campground Management (WCM) to obtain comment from Baytown Mayor Pete C. Alfaro by phone and e-mail were unsuccessful.
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Meanwhile, Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO) Executive Director Brian Schaeffer encouraged Magill and other RV park owners “to provide as much information as possible to the city and work toward a solution that does not involve litigation and media campaigns.”
Schaeffer also noted that TACO has seen a number of instances in Texas and across the country “where hasty actions on the part of utility companies, government agencies and politicians have backfired. We certainly hope that your local community leaders will see the value of RVers in Texas and RV parks and not tax or surcharge them out of existence.” Schaeffer wrote in letter to Magill.
Magill added that he has contacted other campground owners to assess their interest in joining him in a possible lawsuit.