Water bill adjustment considerations and extended permitting times are just two elements of an ordinance Sugar Land City Council voted to approve at its Feb. 23 meeting. The ordinance implemented “certain emergency powers” due to the recent winter storms and subsequent disaster declaration.

"Residents of Sugar Land have endured conditions no one should have to experience during the past week," Mayor Joe R. Zimmerman said. "Many have sustained damage to their homes and businesses and are facing extensive repairs. The ordinance we approved is intended to help our residents and businesses through the recovery process."

Businesses and residents who had pipes or water lines break due to the weather, causing increased water usage, higher bills and potential home damage, may be eligible for help from the city. The adjustments, which will only be applied to the week of the storm, will be granted on a case-by-case basis.

The ordinance will offer potential relief for those who experienced a catastrophic leak or damage due to the extreme weather conditions the week of Feb. 15. Residents and businesses alike can request an adjustment from the city and must provide documentation of the damage. The city also said it is also granting payment plans to households and businesses experiencing financial hardship, which allow customers to pay their outstanding balances over a longer period along with their current charges with no additional penalties or risk of disconnection.

Residents who receive an unusually water high bill and are utilizing automatic bank drafting services should contact the city as soon as possible, Director of Finance Jennifer Brown said.

In addition to water bill adjustments, the ordinance also streamlined the permit and inspection process to expedite damage repairs while still ensuring codes are followed. This will include the following items through May 1:

  • Permit fees for repairs needed as a result of the winter storm will be temporarily waived.

  • For repairs requiring a permit and inspection, inspections can be conducted in person or virtually or even through the submission of photo documentation to speed up the inspection process.

  • Homeowners completing repairs on their homestead will not be required to have the homestead exemption form notarized.

  • Contractors registering with the city of Sugar Land will have their annual registration fee waived if they are performing repairs related to the winter storm.

  • Food establishments with damage repairs can have construction and preopening inspection fees waived.

The ordinance was drafted, presented and passed one week after the storms.

“This type of forward thinking by the leadership, the staff—the efficient way in which they have pulled this together is fabulous, and it thrills me to represent 118,000-plus people, because of [everyone] that pulled us together, and I am so excited to be a part of this,” Council Member William Ferguson said.

For more utility billing details, including adjustment requests or payment plans, contact treasury management at 281-275-2750. To read more about the ordinance, visit www.sugarlandtx.gov/RecoveryResources.