PAYETTE — At the Payette City Council’s regular meeting on Nov. 1, Lori Steiniker brought up the topic of how to best respond to situations where utility users living in rental properties walk out on their bill. This discussion continued at the council’s meeting Nov. 15.
In an email to the newspaper on Nov. 16, Mayor Jeff Williams said the council’s conversation was “very interactive,” pertaining to its discussion of the history of dealing with delinquent utility bills. He said the conversation centered around the following concerns:
• Feasibility of placing shutoff valves on sewer lines: Williams said placing such valves would be significant, as “This investment may be more than the $6,000+ per year utility write-off amount.”
• Here today, gone tomorrow: Williams noted that while many of those who leave their rental properties “in the middle of the night” are renters, some are owners. He adds that part of solving this problem involves ensuring the city has a fair policy for all ratepayers.
“How do we cut an expense for all of the utility users because we have to factor this loss into our annual budget?” is a question Williams aims to see answered.
• Is it the owner’s
problem? Debate continues about changing the city’s policy about whether bills for trash, water and sewer service should be in the name of the tenant, or of the owner of the property where they are staying.
“Is it fair to property owners to be responsible for irresponsible tents?” has yet to be answered.
As this discussion was not an action item on this meeting’s agenda, no action was taken here. However, according to Williams, city officials have been tasked with bringing suggestions to the council’s Dec. 6 meeting about how to answer these questions:
• Should the security deposit be increased (to offset the write-off)?
• Should the City shorten the time period of when a water bill is past due?
• Should we increase the past due penalty which would could also offset the write-off?
• Does the City of Payette change its policy that after 12 month’s of prompt payment the security deposit is returned to the account holder?