Rollingwood City Council discussed possible increases to the deposit and penalty rate for delinquent accounts for water and wastewater customers in the city.
"We've had issues with people who rent and leave and don't pay their last bill, or people selling their house and not paying that bill," Rollingwood Mayor Barry Bone said. "It costs us time, money, effort and people. We are using labor to track down these dollars."
Bone asked the Public Works Department for recommendations on how much of a deposit would be needed to cover those delinquent accounts, and he proposed that the council vote to increase the deposit to $500 and the penalty rate to 20 percent annually for delinquent water and wastewater accounts.
The current penalty rate for delinquent accounts is 6 percent annually for water and no penalty on wastewater with a deposit of $200.
Rollingwood Mayor Pro Tem John Hinton moved that rather than a 20 percent annual penalty on delinquent accounts, the city attorney draft an ordinance to set the penalty at 1.5 percent or 2 percent per month.
Alderwoman Sara Hutson was concerned that the cost of delinquent accounts is no longer as relevant because of drastically reduced water and wastewater bills, she said.
"What was once a bill of $120 a month could now be about $65, so $500 dollars may work for the accounts that we had past due, but that is going to be about eight months' worth [of water and wastewater bills] going forward," Hutson said. "That seems to be a pretty big jump. That is a high level for the deposit when the monthly bills aren't going to be that high."
Alderwoman Susan Jenkins said that while that might be true for some residents, a $500 deposit is only a few months for other customers.
"I think we need to look at some more data before we set a finite number," Bone said.
Council voted unanimously to approve that the city attorney draft an ordinance to increase both the deposit and penalty rates for delinquent water and wastewater customers in the city.