Columbus amends utility deposit ordinance

Published 9:15 pm Tuesday, February 2, 2016

By Leah Justice


The Town of Columbus approved amendments to its utility deposit ordinance last week to allow for someone who lives with an account holder who passes away 120 days to pay the deposit and get their name on the account.

Columbus Town Council met Thursday, Jan. 21 and approved the amendments following some discussion.

Council also agreed to send out letters to customers (water and/or sewer) alerting them of the changes.

At first, council did not approve the amendments but wanted to send out the letters.

Town attorney Bailey Nager said he was unsure if the town could send out the letters if they didn’t approve the amendments. Nager said the town would be sending out a letter saying the town rules do something in the letter when the town rules don’t really say that.

The amendments include that more than one person or entity may serve as co-applicants for a utility account.

“All applicants approved by the town shall be jointly and severally liable for fees due on the account,” states the ordinance.

An applicant for utility service shall pay the utility deposit stated in the town schedule of fees and charges, according to the amendments. The ordinance also now states that an account holder may designate on the account application that the account holder wishes for the deposit, in the event of the account holder’s death, to be transferred to the account holder’s heirs who receive the real property where the utility service is furnished.

The last amendment includes that in the event of the death of a utility account holder, or on the death of the last living co-account holder, a new account applicant, who was a resident of the real property where the utility service is furnished at the time of the death, shall be allowed a period of up to 120 days from the death to pay the utility deposit for that same real property.

Amending the town’s ordinance came about in the last couple months when a utility customer died who had service so long a deposit was never made. The town cut off the family’s water service when a deposit was not made within the town’s previous practice of giving 30 days for a new account holder to pay a current deposit, which for residential customers is now $150. Council discussed the issue for a couple of months and in December, directed staff and the attorney to draft amendments to the ordinance and to draft a letter to alert customers of the changes. Columbus utility customers who have others living in the home can visit Columbus Town Hall to include additional names on the bill.