DENVER(AP) -- A dispute over the rates Denver charges its water customers must return to court for hearings, the Colorado Court of Appeals has ruled, reversing a summary judgment in favor of the Denver Water Board.
``I'm not surprised,'' said Patricia Wells, general counsel for the Denver Water Board. ``We won without a trial or hearing on the merits and while we were grateful for that, we're not surprised that the court might want some proceeding with a hearing.''
Francis J. Sullivan sued the city and county of Denver in 1996 claiming water rates violated the Denver City Charter because there are dual rates: residential rates rise with the number of gallons used, while retail customers are charged a uniform block rate, unchanged by use.
Sullivan submitted documents from an ``expert,'' who found the residential rates were not cost-based, as required by the charter, because ``the increasing rate design improperly charged one class of customers for `seasonal' demand costs, but did not charge other classes for similar costs.'' In addition, the expert said the rate design was not tied to costs, but was designed to meet water conservation goals.
Wells does not dispute the city is promoting conservation. She said the Water Board recently created a third block for residential customers who use more than 60,0000 gallons in a two-month period to further promote conservation.
``We think the block rate structure we have promotes conservation and we will be defending it to the end,'' she said. Sullivan's attorney, Mark Bender, could not be reached for comment.
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