LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Autumn Lake Pointe residents say they're trapped inside their own homes with no way to pay the mounting cost of living and no way to afford the cost of moving.
Ginny Chappell lives in the Autumn Lake Pointe community, near Dixie Highway. She said her fight has led to an eviction letter. Ginny Chappell calls it retaliation for speaking out against the owners. But the owners of that community are telling a different story.
"I think they want us out of here now,” Virginia Chappell, Ginny’s mother, said.
It's a community full of elderly, disabled and veteran residents who say they can no longer afford to live in homes they already own. Until now, they say they have been scared and didn’t want to lose their homes.
But the cost of keeping quiet they say is no longer an option. Even with the fear of retaliation hanging over their heads.
Ginny Chappell lives at Autumn Lake Pointe with her mother Virginia Chappell she has started a Facebook page in support of Autumn Lake Pointe residents. Some of those residents said in two years the parks relatively new owners SSK Communities, added more than $100 to their monthly costs with an increase in rent, sewer, garbage, and water bills.
The iTeam learned Autumn Lake Pointe started a new metered system in the spring. About 90 percent of its 565 homes are metered. The others pay a minimum fee of $33.45 a month until meters are installed.
Folks said when they do get meters they're paying far more than the average Louisville Water Company customer pays.
Granted SSK Communities is a business, and the water company said Autumn Lake is well within its legal right to charge residents whatever it chooses for services.
But the folks here say that’s not fair. Autumn Lakes is one of only 11 Louisville communities being served by JCPS's mobile cafeterias, feeding children lunch where they live during the summer.
“…I think they're working class and I understand the pain--believe me no one wants to keep their rent down and their utilities down more than me," Nathan Smith, with SSK Communities, said.
Smith says using 5,000 gallons per month, park residents would be billed $49.85 for water and sewage. But residents showed the iTeam bills charging much more for much less water. Bills showed residents being charged $68.70 for 3,000 gallons of usage, $74.69 for just more than 4,000 gallons and 75.54 for 4,200 gallons.
"They could be a miss read; this may have been also a meter which wasn't correct. We found several of those," Smith said.
Smith said customers are free to dispute charges. The office is open Monday through Saturday.
The iTeam's open records request discovered Autumn Lake owners paying handsomely for water and sewer. Bills for that ranged from $14,000 to $47,000 per month with an average of around $25,000 per over the last 32 months.
Smith tells the iTeam the new metered system is admittedly a work in progress and the cost of line maintenance, meter reading, mailing and billing adds to its cost. Now residents are going to have to dig even deeper.
"You know we're getting ready to raise water and sewer rates again, so it's a very difficult matter for these folks," Smith said.
Smith assures the iTeam there will be no retaliation towards people who speak up. He says questions about meter readings and billings are welcome.
...but Ginny Chappel is not.
"I was told in person that they're not happy with me and I’m not happy with them," Ginny Chappell said.
The complex gave her a notice to leave because it says she hasn't signed a new lease agreement. And Smith is motivated to see her go.
“We have, we would be happy to move her on because she is a bad player," Smith said.
Smith said Chappell will soon be playing in someone else's park.