Tybee Island hotel owners asking for change in utility rates

Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 4:53 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 4, 2022 at 5:15 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - In 2021, the City of Tybee Island implemented a new rate structure for their utility rates.

Since then, some owners of hotels and motels on the Island say that in some cases, they’re paying 200 percent more than they used to for water and sewer, and they’d like to see that change.

As it stands now, the City of Tybee uses a progressive rate structure to charge for water and sewer.

Those that use the least water, pay the least- and those that use the most water, pay the most, the lowest tier of usage being 0 to 5,000 gallons, and the highest, being over 20,000 gallons.

A group of hotel and motel owners, however, say that this rate structure is unfair.

They’re being charged for the total amount of water their business as a whole uses per month- which almost always falls into the highest tier. Instead, they’d like to see the amount of water used per room taken into consideration.

“If we can find a way to break us down into single room usage, because it’ll drop us down to the lowest tier, that’ll be essentially what we’re looking to accomplish. We understand that we need to pay our fair share, but when you compare it to single-family usage and per-room usage, we should be charged the same,” General Manager Akash Patel said.

The situation was discussed at the last meeting of the finance committee. It was not recommended that they make a change to how hotels and motels are charged for utilities.

City Manager Shawn Gillen doesn’t dispute that those business owners are paying higher rates than they used to- but he says that if they make an exception for them, it’s a slippery slope.

“Our advice to the committee was, once we make special carve outs, then another group’s gonna come along and say, ‘Hey, listen, we have this special circumstance, we would like ,’ and then your restructure gets extraordinarily complicated and you whittle away your ability to replace infrastructure,” Gillen said.

Nothing has been decided yet, and Gillen says they’re going to crunch some numbers and discuss further at this Thursday’s Finance Committee meeting.

Patel and five other hotel/motel owners on the island did send a letter to the Tybee City Council, which you can see below: