Bradenton to end snowbirds’ water bill loophole

Assistant Director of Bradenton's Office of Management and Budget Lance Williams address the...
Assistant Director of Bradenton's Office of Management and Budget Lance Williams address the City Council May 25.(City of Bradenton)
Published: Jun. 8, 2022 at 4:09 PM EDT
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BRADENTON, Fla. (WWSB) - Snowbirds in Bradenton will no longer be able to turn off their water while they’re up north and not pay their water bill for those months, the City Council recently decided.

In its May 25 meeting, Lance Williams, the assistant director of the city’s Office of Management and Budget, told the council the unofficial policy costs the city an estimated $200,000 a year.

“Bradenton is the only agency between Tampa and Fort Myers to offer a seasonal nonbilling option,” he said.

Williams said mostly in October, between 500 and 600 seasonal residents arrive and ask for their service to be turned on. In April, they ask for service to be turned off, before leaving for their winter homes.

During the months the water is turned off, the city doesn’t generate a bill for those accounts.

That, Williams said, just isn’t fair. He quoted a recent white paper from the Florida Rural Water Association which said the practice is not recommended. “Each customer should pay their proportional share. It’s not equitable and just,” Williams said.

Some snowbirds even plan their return to the area around this loophole, to avoid the last days of a billing cycle. “They will literally go without water for one day, as long as they don’t jump into the next billing cycle.”

During discussion, Ward IV Councilman Bill Sanders confessed that when he was a snowbird, before being elected, he took advantage of the city’s policy. “The motive was, I was a snowbird,” he said.

But Sanders agreed with Williams on ending the policy, saying the steady revenue stream was important; the strain on city staffers who must process hundreds of requests twice a year is also undesirable.

The Council voted unanimously to end the policy.

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