Troy assesses changes to utility billing process

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Troy City Council considered changes to the way the municipality collects payments from electric utilities and sets prices and wages for the city’s electric utility last month.

City officials have suggested changing bylaws so that electricity bills are the sole responsibility of landlords after city workers said they had difficulty collecting utility payments from tenants. Due to rising material costs and outdated pay rates, advisors have also received updates to electricity service pricing guidelines.

Under current regulations, the municipality allows tenants to open accounts with the city’s electrical service. City workers only had to give landlords notice if tenants were 60 days late on their payments. This allowed some tenants to end their leases without their landlord knowing that they had not paid a backlog of utility bills.

“We have tenants who leave a bill for $ 800 with the landlord and then the landlord calls us and says, ‘Why didn’t I know? Town Clerk and Treasurer Tracy Rebo said at a November 17th city council meeting.

In the event that a former tenant who failed to cover their utility bills requests electricity at another address, Rebo said city workers will force them to pay past debts. The municipality would use the funds to reimburse the owner.

But Rebo noted that this system forced city employees to take on tasks outside of their job descriptions.

“It’s not for us to be their debt collector,” she said.

Allowing tenants to hold accounts also means city employees spend hours switching accounts every time a landlord changes tenants.

To avoid these headaches, Rebo, along with Assistant City Clerk Chera Cole and Director of Electricity Clay Campbell, recommended that the city require homeowners to hold electric utility accounts at their home. name. While city employees would accept payments from tenants, all utility bills would go directly to landlords.

While the initial revisions to the regulations would have vested in tenants who already had accounts in their name, city officials amended it on November 30 to require that all tenant accounts be transferred to their names. their owner by June 1, 2022.

Tenants who still have a meter deposit would be allowed to stay on the account. If a tenant is receiving government assistance for their utilities, landlords can add the tenant’s name in place of the landlord’s mailing address.

The question of who should be responsible for utility bills has been an issue for the city for at least four years, according to Mayor Dallas Carr.

“I think it’s about time we moved on and tried to fix it,” Carr said.

The proposed changes to the requirements also include the addition of fees for certain requests to relocate power lines. Under the previous regulation, the utility would not charge a resident for a request to relocate a power line if the change in location of the line was beneficial to the utility. The new regulations would give the ministry the ability to charge “reduced fees” in these cases.

To reflect changes in the cost of materials, Campbell has updated pricing guidelines for ministry-supplied work listed in the regulations. The price of a 25-foot Class 6 pole, for example, has gone from $ 100 to $ 223.

“You can see that some have increased dramatically,” Campbell said. “That’s what it costs me to get them, so that’s what it should cost if someone needs to log in.” ”

The changes would also update salary guidelines for employees. Under the new regulations, a foreman would earn $ 45.42 per hour, up from a previous wage of $ 32.82. In a follow-up interview, Rebo said the old salaries were outdated and did not reflect the salary that city workers were actually getting from home.

To cover the cost of providing the notices, city officials included a new $ 10 fee for delivering a disconnection notice and a new $ 3 fee for sending a second notice, sent when the A resident’s utility payment is overdue by 60 days.

Before voting on the changes, city officials will hold a public hearing. As of November 30, city workers had yet to set a date for the hearing, according to Rebo.


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