Should Utility Services Be Charged a Flat Rate or a Variable Rate ?
In City of Miami Springs, 245 So. 2d at 81, the court upheld an ordinance setting a flat sewer fee of $ 7.00 per month for single-family residences and a variable rate based on use for all other users.
Other Florida courts regularly have upheld flat rates for utility services.
City of New Smyrna Beach v. Fish, 384 So. 2d 1272, 1273 (Fla. 1980) (upholding an ordinance setting garbage collection rates that established a flat rate for single-family residences and multifamily residences of a certain size and a variable rate for all others based on the number and size of the containers);
Town of Mexico Beach, 348 So. 2d at 42 (upholding an ordinance charging a flat garbage rate for all residential users regardless of whether premises were occupied);
Pinellas Apartment Ass'n v. City of St. Petersburg, 294 So. 2d 676, 678 (Fla. 2d DCA 1974) (noting that "the setting of utility rates is often a complicated process and mathematical exactitude cannot be required").
Cases in other states also have upheld rates that do not precisely correlate with actual use.
Home Builders Ass'n of Utah v. City of American Fork, 1999 UT 7, 973 P.2d 425, 429 (Utah 1999) (warning that "municipalities must have sufficient flexibility to deal realistically with issues that do not admit of any kind of precise mathematical equality");
McDonald Mobile Homes, Inc. v. Village of Swansea, 56 Ill. App. 3d 759, 371 N.E.2d 1155, 1158, 14 Ill. Dec. 102 (Ill. App. Ct. 1977) (upholding sewer fees where single-family residences, apartments, motel rooms and mobile homes were all placed in one classification, and commercial in another, noting that "while we agree with plaintiffs that defendant's method for determining sewer use is not scientifically precise, we believe there is a substantial correlation between water consumption and sewer use and that the Village's scheme for assessing sewer use charges is a reasonable exercise of its legislative authority");
McGrath v. City of Manchester, 119 N.H. 109, 398 A.2d 842, 845 (N.H. 1979) (noting that "the fact that absolute mathematical equality is not achieved does not render the system invalid");
Watergate II Apartments v. Buffalo Sewer Auth., 46 N.Y.2d 52, 385 N.E.2d 560, 564, 412 N.Y.S.2d 821 (N.Y. 1978) (recognizing that "where only an approximation of cost or value is possible, discrepancies may have to be endured in the name of administrative flexibility so long as there exists some rational underpinning on the charges levied").