The water-hookup deposit for new customers in Provo is increasing from $5 to $30, the City Council decided Tuesday night, in an effort to keep water bills lower for people who do pay their bills.
The council approved the revisions as part of the city's campaign to crack down on residents and businesses that don't pay their bills, said Merril Bingham, city director of water and wastewater.The $5 deposit has not changed for many years, he said. "The deposit (should get) us enough money to recover a large portion of the bill if a customer moves out and leaves the bill unpaid."
The deposit increase "is an effort to better cover costs so the good ratepayers of the city don't have to pay additional money to cover other peoples' bad debts," Bingham said.
The ordinance change is similar to the Energy Department's recent change to reduce delinquent accounts by requiring a deposit. If new customers have two years of good credit with the city, they will not be required to pay the deposit. They will have a deposit refunded after two years with a good credit rating.
The revision also includes an added rate for the connection fees of 6- and 8-inch meters proportionate to other meter fees. Bingham said the previous ordinance included only connection fees based on meter sizes from five-eighths to 4 inches.
Council Chairman Ronald Last said the previous ordinance did not include the rate for the larger meters. "It is not an additional cost. It is just an addition of meter sizes to the ordinance. It has always been charged."
He said the new water account deposit is a one-time charge to turn on the water and won't affect anyone already receiving service.
Clarifications in the ordinance also call for property owners to be responsible for maintenance of service lines on their property. It requires landowners to plug off abandoned water service lines and sewer lateral lines at the main, Bingham said.
The revision of Title 10 of the Provo City Ordinances was requested by council members to simplify and organize the ordinance into readable and understandable material, Last said.
Chet Waggener, Provo chief administrative officer, said the ordinance will be in effect in approximately 30 days.
Bingham's office has revised the ordinance to bring it up to date. He said his office also is looking into pressurized watering from irrigation ditches to water city parks. By using pumps to pressurize the system the city would preserve its culinary water and would make good use of irrigation water.
"Pumping costs of culinary water is much higher than using irrigation water pumping," he said.