The North Bend Eagle


City may want landlords to cover renters' upaid water, sewer bills

by Nathan Arneal
Published 6/6/06

The North Bend City Council is looking at giving landlords another layer of responsibility for deadbeat renters while removing it from the city’s shoulders.

This issue was further discussed at the June 18, 2013, meeting. Read that story here.

At its June 5 meeting, the council debated an ordinance that would make landlords responsible for any unpaid water and sewer bills left behind by their former renters. The bill would have to be settled with the city before another renter moves in. Currently, the city eats any unpaid bills above and beyond the $100 deposit it collects for new water and sewer accounts.

“I think it’s a great idea,” mayor Jeff Kluthe said. “It alleviates more pressure from the city.”

Kluthe said the city shouldn’t be held responsible for landowners renting to irresponsible renters. The city doesn’t get to screen potential renters, while the landlords do, he said. Some renters have run up hundreds of dollars worth of unpaid fees before skipping town and leaving the city no way to collect the balance.

Councilman Tom Mullally said he was opposed to the measure.

“My problem is that you’re making the homeowner do the work for the city because the city is not collecting the bill,” Mullally said. “If (the city) can’t collect the bill or doesn’t have the information to go after them to collect it later, then you’re doing something wrong. If the renter doesn’t pay the bill, then shut them off.”

City Clerk Theresa Busse said turning off someone’s water is easier said than done. There are restrictions and time limitations to shutting off water to a property. While that process takes place, the bill keeps adding up. Busse also said that many curb stops, which allow water to be shut off to an individual house, are inoperable. City code already requires landowners to provide a working and accessible curb stop.

“If our hands are tied and we can’t shut off the water, then that should definitely be on the landlord,” councilman Tim Blackmon said.

Mullally said if the city wants more of a safety net for people who don’t pay their bills, then it should increase the deposit it collects.

“If the deposit doesn’t cover it, why do you have it?” Mullally said. “I don’t think you should be responsible for somebody else’s bill just because you own the building. What if they don’t pay their fuel bill when they leave town? Should the landlord take care of that, too?”

Busse mentioned that Prague has a policy similar to the one North Bend is considering. The council asked her to get a copy of Prague’s ordinance for it to study.

The measure was tabled without any action taken.

In other city business:

• Rich Kotite of Horvath Communications presented information on a proposed 280-foot cell tower his company wants to install west of North Bend. The tower would be located near the intersection of County Road 6 and Highway 30, near Grosch Irrigation, about a mile west of North Bend. The tower would stand south of Highway 30 and north of the railroad tracks.
Kotite said construction of the tower would likely take place in November.
The council approved the conditional use permit following a public hearing in which no one but Kotite spoke.

• The council reviewed plans presented by Dan Martinez of Apex Land Surveying on the Phase 3 development of Pioneer Lake, the housing development south of the North Bend Golf Course. The proposed lots would be approximately two acres each, slightly larger than the existing lots of Pioneer Lake.
The council approved the preliminary plat.

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