Wedel: Pot grows undercharged

The Oak Creek town government has, on numerous occasions, told citizens of the benefits of approving marijuana businesses and how those businesses are “paying their way.” I think that is not true for water and electric utilities.

The marijuana grows all have installed water meters, but the town still does not charge based upon actual usage. The town has read the water meters and knows they consume thousands of gallons a month. Yet, the town charges marijuana grows the same fixed monthly water rates as a real estate office or dance studio.

The marijuana grows are not being billed as if a higher usage, such as a restaurant or even as if using as much as a laundromat or car wash. By undercharging the marijuana grows, every household is paying an extra 50 cents to a dollar every month to subsidize the marijuana grows.

On April 23, the town board raised the electricity rates effective June 1 saying more money was needed to cover costs. Residential users will see about a 10 percent rate increase due to a $2 increase in the monthly base fee and being charged a penny more for the first 500 kwh each month. Meanwhile, the town lowered the per kwh rate for large customers, so a marijuana grow with currently a $4,000 bill will now be charged $200 less a month. Thus, households will be charged more to pay for a rate cut for marijuana grows.

The marijuana growers have been effective at changing town land use ordinances and being charged favorable rates for water and electricity. I think it is time for the people to stand up and tell the town government to stop subsidizing the commercial marijuana growers.

Scott Wedel

Oak Creek property owner

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