Landlords to be responsible for water

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 11, 2008

Landlords in Ironton will have to sign a document if their tenants are to have water in their homes.

Mark White, the head of the Ironton Water Department, said that a tenant previously just had to sign the form to turn on water.

White said under the new policy, both the tenant and the owner would be liable for past due water bills because the city “loses a lot of money on this.”

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He said the issue came up because tenants would skip out on delinquent water bills and the water department was unable to find them to get the money they were owed.

When asked how much the city was owed, White said he didn’t have any figures, but said it was in the thousands of dollars.

“We could pay for a new water tank without going out for a loan,” he told city council on Thursday night.

White said while the sign-up form is new, the law giving them the authority to do that is from a 2005 city ordinance.

He said that sometimes it is tenants moving, leaving behind a large bill or staying in the same home and sending someone else in to the water department to put the water in their name while they stay in the same residence.

“We are just trying to collect what is due us,” White said. He said the step was necessary because the water system is getting older and will need repairs in the future.

Councilman Frank Murphy wanted to know why the city didn’t just turn off the water to a house after the due date for the bill has come and gone.

White said the water department couldn’t because there were procedures they had to go through to turn off the water and usually by the time it was turned off, they were owed three months worth of bills.

Vice-Mayor Bob Cleary said that when he was mayor, water bills were in the owners’ names. He said there was instance when a tenant who was giving the money to a landlord who didn’t pay the bill sued the city in federal court.

The city settled and set up the current procedure to be in line with Ohio law.

When asked what happens if the owner refuses to sign the new document, White said the department can pull the water tap and refuse service until it is signed. And under state law, houses can’t be rented if there isn’t a source of water.

In items on the agenda, the council passed an ordinance

to lease city property at 317 Hecla St. to Big G, Inc.

Big G, Inc. has been making concrete products in Lawrence County since 1990 operating as Picket Concrete. The company pours concrete walls and is expanding into casting concrete materials.

Company owner John Galloway said the new company, Premier Precast, would use the property and buildings to make precast concrete products like manholes and catch basins for sewer and wastewater systems.

The council also passed a resolution making the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization the city’s grant writer and administrator.

The same resolution failed two weeks ago after several councilmen had questions on whether they were getting their money’s worth in the deal.

At a special meeting on April 2, the CAO’s assistant executive director, Ralph Kline, spoke to the council and apparently answered all their questions because the new resolution passed unanimously and without discussion on Thursday.

Ironton City Council meets on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month at 6 p.m. in council chambers on the third floor of the Ironton City Center.