SHADY COVE — A Medford man who owns property in Shady Cove is suing the Shady Cove Water District, contending it is illegally collecting a water service fee without providing water.

SHADY COVE — A Medford man who owns property in Shady Cove is suing the Shady Cove Water District, contending it is illegally collecting a water service fee without providing water.

Medford attorney Michael Franell filed the suit in Jackson County Circuit Court Thursday on behalf of Norman Fincher, a financial adviser and Shady Cove property owner.

Franell asked the court to rule that a $6 monthly water fee is not a "fee for service" and that the water district does not have the authority to charge the fee without providing such a service.

"The water district is a statutorily created body," said Franell, "and so the only powers it has are statutory powers. We believe they did not follow the law in enacting the fee that they're assessing against the properties, and that they don't have the statutory authority for such fee."

In May, the water district passed an ordinance requiring a monthly $6 water service fee from the owner of each city lot that had been improved in any way and was not left in its natural state.

When bills began arriving in mailboxes late in the summer, angry residents wanted to know why they were being charged a fee when they weren't getting any water.

Fincher confronted the water district board with 28 questions last month. He questioned the legality of the district and asked for operational details of how the district plans to bring water to the city.

Fincher said he hadn't heard anything from the district in the last month and was unable to reach them by phone on Monday.

Jim Collier, former president of the water district board and now the district manager, said the district was providing a service by trying to obtain water for the city, and by providing office space, billing, accounting and contact with state, national and local public agencies.

— Bill Miller, for the Mail Tribune