Valparaiso to begin collecting deposits from some water customers
James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent September 10, 2013 11:58PM
Updated: October 15, 2013 6:30AM
VALPARAISO — The City Utilities Department will charge deposits for water service to customers who don’t have good credit.
That means people who have had their water shut off two times for nonpayment or have had past-due notices three months in a row need to put in a deposit, not to exceed one-sixth of their estimated annual water costs.
The city could also charge a deposit on a new account if the customer’s credit history reflected past problems.
The amount is set by state law, customer service and billing manager Mary Woodward said at Tuesday’s City Utilities board meeting.
The reason for the deposit is that the city loses money trying to collect. Board attorney Mike Langer said it costs about $105 to file suit against a debtor, and they usually owe about $200.
Often, the debtors plead hardship and cannot pay the debt, much less any legal fees.
But when 200 to 300 people owe that much, it builds up.
Under state law, the city must return the deposit if the customer pays bills on time for nine months and must repay the deposit with interest if the city doesn’t return it within 12 months.
Also at the meeting, the board tabled plans to award a contract for the collapsing sewer line along Axe Avenue because bids came in $25,000 to $120,000, more than the estimated $75,000.
The line serves that area east to the Valparaiso University law school building.
The utility department discovered during a routine inspection that the line was collapsing.
C&D manager Check McIntire said the 210 feet of line to be replaced near the Public Works campus is probably from before World War II.
The board tabled the project so City Engineer Tim Burkman can review the plans and see if the low bid of $95,000 by GE Marshall is reasonable.