ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — An Orange County Utilities audit found that hundreds of customers might not be paying their fair share.
Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond said better testing could help save taxpayers money.
“It’s expensive to treat wastewater, and we want to make sure that the people who are creating the high-strength wastewater pay for it,” Diamond said.
That’s the objective of this audit of the Orange County Utilities’ environmental surcharge program, which monitors the sewage discharge of commercial and industrial facilities.
“How much wastewater are they putting out every day?” Diamond said. “And if it’s more than 10,000, the next question is, ‘What’s in that water? How bad is it?’”
Customers with increased levels of pollutants in the wastewater are charged a fee to help offset the extra cost of treatment.
“The big takeaway is that they need to expand the testing,” Diamond said.
Diamond said this audit found that about 250 customers who meet the threshold are not being tested at all.
“We need to make sure that they’re paying their fair share as well,” he said.
Orange County is currently collecting roughly $2 million a year through the surcharge program.
Diamond said the county is missing out on more revenue.
“Whether it’s a lot more, whether it’s something more, we don’t know,” Diamond said. “But that’s why we’re suggesting testing: so we know exactly how much more.”
The county responded to the recommendations in the audit and said it will evaluate the customers to see if they can be added to the program.
“This is going to result in more revenues for the county, which is going to reduce the burden on every other taxpayer,” Diamond said. “Which nowadays, with all the issues with costs and inflation, is probably even more important.”
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