Water changes a fair compromise

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 14, 2008

The front-end cost of water service in the city of Ironton may cost a bit more than it used to, but the plan will ultimately save many citizens money.

City council agreed to increase the water service deposit from $75 to $250, though this will be refunded after a year of paying on time, as a way to offset losses the city faces by those who run up delinquent accounts and skip town. The changes won’t effect those who already have water service.

The city has been struggling to collect more than $130,000 in recent delinquent bills and more than half a million dollars worth of much older bills.

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One of the problems is that it takes approximately three months for the water collection and billing system to accurately determine that a customer is delinquent, truly not going to pay and then get the water turned off.

Thankfully, these ordinance changes will go a long way toward addressing that problem because the sizeable deposit should help offset the charges for those months.

This should be music to the taxpayers’ ears because it means the burden to pay for a few deadbeats won’t get shifted to those who do pay their bills on time.

Ultimately, if these changes weren’t made, it was only a matter of time before city leaders were forced to implement a rate increase to subsidize these losses.

Another key part of these new water regulations is that landowners and renters are treated the same, without either group being punished with a different set of rules.

A previous proposal had looked at making property owners solely responsible. While that idea has some merit, this new plan should be a fair middle ground.

One of the changes in the regulations is that people will have to show identification to get their water bill set up and a list will be kept of delinquent accounts so that a person can’t keep setting up accounts, skipping the bill and setting up a new account at a different house or setting up a new account at the same house with a different person’s information.

Also, getting water service restored that has been shut off for non-payment will be a little stricter because full payment will be required.

These changes may be a little hard to swallow for some at the beginning but it should make the water bills “taste” better for all residents in the long run.