Many business owners and residents are struggling having to pay those drastic increases in their utility bills. That comes as a result of the storm water rate structure implemented in January.

A local charter school was swallowing a dramatic increase, which the Director and even the City Attorney said it shouldn't be responsible for. 

"I don't know what the problem is, it's very frustrating," Director and Founder of Rise Academy Richard Baumgartner said.

Frustration, partly because of a lack of communication.

"The messages were going through the system and got crisscrossed at the same time," Director of Public Works Wood Franklin said.

"Rise Academy is a public charter school and is indeed part of the public school system of Texas," Baumgartner said.

Since the city implemented the new storm water rate structure in January, the school's storm water fee has increased by about $300 per month.

Baumgartner contacted the City Attorney to challenge the charge.

"As part of the public school system we should also be exempt," Baumgartner said.

In an email, the City Attorney told Baumgartner his school was in fact exempt.

"That same email directed me to contact the storm water unit to arrange for the exemption."
He said he left a voicemail and email for those in the storm water department.

"And we heard nothing whatsoever from them," Baumgartner said.

"In that approval was a recommendation to Rise Academy to contact the Storm Water Department to make sure the billing has been resolved which of course, I don't believe that happened," Franklin said.
Before Baumgarner finally heard from the department Thursday, he got a demand message Wednesday from LP&L.

"We got the automated message from LP&L that if we didn't pay that portion of the storm fee on our latest bill that within in nine days our water utility could be cut off," Baumgartner said.

"We don't have the authority to act on a customers account until a department tells us that their customer is exempt," LP&L Spokesperson Matt Rose said.

Rose said the utility didn't get word of the exemption until Thursday morning.

"Unfortunately, an automatic notification went out to the customer before that exemption was put in," Rose said.

Rose said LP&L called Baumgartner to confirm that his services will not be turned off, and the school is exempt from storm water fees.

"All of that's been fixed in the system and when it comes to rise academy they are exempted and will be exempted going forward," Rose said.

Wood Franklin, Director of Public Works said Baumgartner was encouraged to pay the entire bill, including the storm water fee until the City Attorney made his decision on the exemption.

"Had they paid the bill like we requested then they wouldn't have gotten the automation and they would have been reimbursed or credited the money so the balance would have balanced out on their next billing cycle," Franklin said.

Franklin said the delay in communication came as a result of Baumgartner's attorneys.

"Our staff cannot speak directly to him, so now all the communication has to go through our legal department his legal department so obviously that adds time and confusion to the communication," Franklin said.

Franklin said Rise Academy will be credited for their June utility bill and Baumgartner expects about a $2,000 refund for the previous storm water payments that he dutifully paid, dating back to January.