§ 51.01  RATES, CHARGES AND FEES; POLICIES AND REGULATIONS.
   That the City Council of the city hereby fixes and prescribes the following: rates, charges and fees for water service in the city; rules, regulations, policies in connection therewith, which shall be applicable to and the controlling ordinance relative to the city’s waterworks system (hereinafter sometimes referred to as the system); to-wit.
   (A)   No free service permitted. No free service of the city’s system shall be allowed to any person, firm, corporation or association whatsoever (hereinafter sometimes referred to as customer).  Should the city or any of its agencies or instrumentalities make use of the services of facilities of the city’s system, the city shall make payment of the reasonable value thereof out of funds from sources other than the revenues of the city’s system.
   (B)   Connection specifications and inspection requirements. One-inch meters shall not be allowed on lines smaller than six inches. All sprinkler system connections shall be installed and maintain double-check valves or air gaps. All connections made pursuant to the terms and conditions of this section shall be inspected by the City Inspector or a duly designated agent of the city.
   (C)   Monthly rates for water services. The monthly charge for water and sewer service shall be as contained in and attached to the annual operating budget of the city.
   (D)   Effective date of rate changes. The effective date of any rate ordinance shall be contained in that ordinance.
   (E)   Billing procedures for water service.
      (1)   Water meters. The city staff shall read all water meters once each month and render a monthly bill for water and sewer services to each customer. The bill shall be payable within 20 days from receipt thereof. No partial payments shall be accepted. Bills not paid within 20 days shall have added thereto a charge of 10% of the past due amount. Failure to receive a city utility bill shall not relieve a customer of any responsibility for the bill.
      (2)   Meter readings. A customer who disputes the meter reading may request a re-read of their meter. A customer’s first re-read is done at no charge. All subsequent re-readings will be charged in accordance with the fee schedule. If the re-read indicated a city miscalculation, the fee will be waived.
      (3)   Meter speed. A customer who believes that the meter is not running accurately may request that the meter be pulled and tested. When a meter is pulled it will be replaced with a new meter. If the pulled meter is found to be reading slow or within the American Water Works Association (AWWA) specified range, a fee will be assessed. If the meter is found to be reading fast, any billings will be adjusted and there will be no charge to the customer for pulling, testing or replacing the meter.
   (F)   Failure to pay for service; discontinuation of service by city; fees to resume service.
      (1)   The city reserves the right to discontinue and cut off a customer’s water service for failure to pay his or her water bill within 25 days from the date the bill was mailed to the customer. Payment by the customer by dishonored check shall constitute failure to pay.
      (2)   Termination notice will be sent. This notice will offer a conference for disputes of the correctness of the billing. The conference is not for payment delays or waivers. The conference will be with a staff person of authority to rescind a disconnect order. The notice will give a date that service will be disconnected.
      (3)   Service will be reconnected only after all charges and fees have been satisfied. Payment must be remitted in cash, money order or cashier’s check.
      (4)   Payment plans: arrangements or contract payment plans may be established within city staff discretion for those with large balances or hardships. Arrangement is made for those customers who request and need a short extension (less than two weeks) to avoid cut-off procedures. If the account is not cleared in the established time, cut-off procedures commence.
      (5)   Contracts may be established for those customers with excessive balances that cannot be cleared with one payment. A monthly contract amount is agreed upon and must be paid in a timely manner along with the total current amount due. If the contract payment and current amount payment due are not made timely, the contract is automatically void and the cut-off procedures commence.
   (G)   Reservation of rights by city.
      (1)   The city reserves the right at any time to shut off the water in its mains for the purpose of cleaning, repairing or making any connections or extensions, or for the purpose of repairing machinery, reservoir or any part of the system.
      (2)   The city may refuse service connection to one property if the customer has delinquent utility charges outstanding at another property, i.e. builders with multiple projects or rental properties.
      (3)   Water lines extending beyond an authorized water service meter are considered private water service lines and consequently any repairs and related water loss shall be the responsibility of the water customer. In the event that a water customer suffers a water loss and, after review by the city, such loss is determined to be without negligence and beyond the control of the water customer, the city may apply the minimum water rate to the water lost and adjust the amount due the city.
      (4)   Master-metered accounts: in addition to disconnect provisions herein, the city may provide a notice of pending discontinuance to each dwelling unit served by the master-meter in the event of failure to pay for utility services.
      (5)   If a utility account is in arrears in any utility (water, sewer, garbage, recycling, or in late fees accrued on any utility) the city shall follow the procedures outlined in the service disconnection section and disconnect water service to the customer.
      (6)   The city reserves the right to discontinue and disconnect a customer’s sanitary sewer service for failure to pay his or her sewer bill in accordance with the procedures established herein for a customer’s failure to pay his or her water bill.
      (7)   The City of Heath may institute a drought contingency plan as needed.
   (H)   Indemnity of city. It is expressly understood, as a pre-requisite to furnishing water service to customers, that the city is not liable for any damages resulting from breakage or leakage of any pipes on any premises.
   (I)   Right of entry.
      (1)   Any water customer of the city shall, at all reasonable times permit the city to enter his or her premises or building to examine his or her water pipes and fixtures, the manner in which the water is used and for the purposes of reading, repairing or testing water meters.
      (2)   For purposes of reading, repairing or testing water meters, any city water customer shall maintain a 30-inch clearance of vegetation, landscaping material or other barrier around the water meter.  Failure to maintain a 30-inch clearance may result in the city’s removal of the material with associated costs being charged to the water utility customer.
   (J)   Consent of city required.
      (1)   No plumber or person except an employee or agent of the city, will be allowed to tap any street main or pipes belonging to the city or to do any work in the street or alleys or public grounds in connection with the laying of street service connections for connection with their mains without consent of city staff.
      (2)   Any person causing damage to a water meter, curb stop or any other component of the city water system shall be liable for all costs associated with repairs. If the person responsible for the damage cannot be identified, the property owner or contractor working for the property owner will be assessed appropriately.
   (K)   Additional rules and regulations. The city reserves the right to make other rules and regulations, policies and provisions as may be necessary for the preservation, protection and economical administration of its waterworks system.
(2005 Code, § 3-3-1)  (Ord. 891102B, passed 11-2-1989; Ord. 010802B, passed - -; Ord. 030320E, passed - -; Ord. 030605A, passed - -; Ord. 041216A, passed - -)
Statutory reference:
   Municipal utilities, see Tex. Local Gov’t. Code, Ch. 402