Columbus adopts strict water bill policy to cut revenue loss

Published 5:15 pm Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Beginning in February, the town will give customers until the 20th of the month to pay the water bill. If it is not paid,&bsp; water service will be cut off on the 21st.

Town council held a public hearing last week to consider putting renters&squo; water bills in the landlords&squo; names and approximately 10 people spoke against the idea, most of the speakers being local landlords.

One common concern of landlords was that renters would have no incentive to conserve water if the landlord was responsible for the bill.

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Carl Wharton said currently when a toilet is leaking, renters call him immediately to fix it because they know they have to pay the bill at the end of the month, but that wouldn&squo;t happen if the bill is not the renters&squo; responsibility.

Frank Giordano said this proposal encourages increases in consumption. He said he&squo;s notified his tenants that he will double their annual water bill and include it in their monthly rental. Some of them, he said, responded that they would go back to watering their gardens and washing their cars and questioned why they could no longer save money by using less water.

Other landlords said because of the economy lately, they have been lowering rents because tenants have lost their jobs or are having hard times and now the town is basically asking them to increase rents to cover water bills.

Council members said they heard the concerns and agreed that it is the town&squo;s duty to collect from individuals.

Council members said they will take a look at how the new policy is working and discuss it further in March, 2009.