(A)   The person in whose name service to a premises is billed, the occupant of the premises, the owner of the premises, and the user of the service shall be jointly and severally liable to pay for such service, and the service is furnished to the premises by the city only upon the condition that said persons are jointly and severally liable therefor to the city. Before relieving the owner of the requirement to pay for a billing that is currently in the name of the owner of the premises, a deposit of $125 must be paid by the tenant to the city.
   (B)   Regular bill (white). Water, sewer, and solid waste service charges shall be sent using a white post card on or near the first day of the month succeeding the bi-monthly period for which service was supplied. All bills for utility services shall be due and payable for the period which the service is billed, not later than the close of business on the twentieth day after bills have been sent. In the event the customer fails to receive the original bill (white) for services, and the customer is in good standing with the city as defined herein, then the city shall waive the late penalty. A customer in good standing is hereby defined as not having more than one penalty for any account they were liable for in the preceding three years.
   (C)   Penalty bill (yellow). If payment of the full amount of the bill is not made by the due date of the white post card bill, then a penalty of 10% of the amount of the balance of the utility services bill will be added to the amount due and which shall be the sole responsibility of the service user. The billing addressee will be notified of the 10% penalty by the mailing of a yellow post card, which will allow an additional ten days for the bill plus the penalty to be paid. If the billing addressee is a tenant, the owner will be sent a notice informing the owner that the tenant is overdue on the utility services billing and the consequences if the bill is not paid. If in the opinion of the City Manager or his designee, the balance owed, is not of a sufficiently large amount to justify the administrative costs required to collect said balance, the balance can be retained on the account and will become payable on rendition of the next bill. Such determination to retain balances on account will be made following guidelines put forth by the City Manager in a Standing Order. Said Standing Order may be amended from time to time as is determined by the City Manager to be prudent. If upon expiration of the ten day grace period the bill remains unpaid, the landlord may provide notice to the city, upon such form as provided by the city, to suspend service. The city may proceed with termination of water service upon expiration of the ten day grace period of the penalty bill unless the person so notified shall request a hearing prior to the expiration of said ten-day period. The hearing shall be held by the City Manager or a person designated by him. Unless the hearing officer determines that the proposed termination is not justified, or unless other arrangements for payment of the bill are approved by the City Manager or his designee, the city may proceed with termination of the water service on the date stated in the termination notice (red tag).
   (D)   Shut off warning (red). If payment of the full amount of the bill plus penalty is not made by the due date of the yellow post card bill, then a red tag will be attached to the front door of the service address warning that the water service will be shut off if the full amount of the bill including penalties, and the red tag fee specified below, is not paid by 10 a.m. on the second following working day. There shall be charged to any user of utility services a $15 fee for delivery by city personnel of a notice of shut off (red tag) of water service for nonpayment for services. The City Manager, or his designee, is authorized to make alternate arrangements, such as a limited extension of the shut-off date or a promissory note, (contract to pay over time), as may be set forth in a Standing Order by the City Manager. Said Standing Order may amended from time to time as is determined by the City Manager to be prudent.
   (E)   Shut off. In the event the charges for utility services, penalties and fees, are not paid as demanded by the red tag, such service shall be immediately terminated without further notice and shall not be reinstated until all past-due bills, including the penalties and red tag fee thereon, are paid in full or other arrangements for the retirement of the obligation are approved by the City Manager or person designated by him. If the premises is occupied by a tenant, the owner shall be informed in writing that the water has been shut off and that the past-due bill, penalties, fees and the current bill must be paid in ten days.
   (F)   Reconnection of service. In the event that water services are terminated for nonpayment of rates or charges for water, sewer, or solid waste services, there shall be a $40 reconnection fee paid for reconnecting such service, plus all costs incurred in filing and recording of any lien upon the real estate.
   (G)   Delinquent bill. In the event the charges for service are not paid as required by this chapter such charges shall be deemed and are hereby declared to be delinquent, and thereafter such delinquencies shall constitute liens upon the real estate for which such service was supplied, and the City Clerk is hereby authorized to file sworn statements showing such delinquencies in the office of the County Recorder of Deeds, and the filing of such statements in the pertinent office shall be deemed notice for the payment of such charges for such service. The City Clerk may, in lieu of filing a lien upon the property, refer the delinquent bill to the City Attorney for the purpose of filing a claim in small claims court for the collection of said delinquent bill.
   (H)   Unexpectedly high billing. A water customer, upon receipt of a water billing that reflects water usage of three times the normal anticipated usage, of which there is no explanation for the same, may petition the City Manager for relief based upon the following factors:
      (1)   High billing defined. An unexpected billing that is three times the normal, expected usage, which is not reflective of deliberate and excessive usage, and which is further verified to be three times normally anticipated usage by checking the average usage of the customer for the past 12 months, as well as for the same time frame over the past 24 months. If such history is unavailable for the customer at this particular site, then information from past usage by that customer at another location may be utilized. However, the lack of history shall not automatically nullify the customer from seeking relief.
      (2)   Petition for relief. The customer responsible for the bill found to meet the definition of a high water bill provided above, may file a petition for relief at the office of the City Clerk, on forms provided by the Clerk, which provides, at a minimum, the following information:
         (a)   Describe the use of the property;
         (b)   Was the water used, or was there a known plumbing problem;
         (c)   Attest that the water was not used, in any way, by the customer or other potential users;
         (d)   Have, or will, allow the city to enter the property for the purposes of conducting a complete and satisfactory inspection of the plumbing and fixtures and other appurtenances of the property that might contribute to the unexpected usage;
         (e)   Attest that, if problems with plumbing contributed to the unexpected usage, they have had the same repaired, and acknowledge their understanding that the city may limit the number of opportunities for relief;
         (f)   Pay $25 administrative fee.
      (3)   Actions by city. The city shall ensure that the following checks have been made:
         (a)   A complete, thorough and satisfactory inspection of the property was made by staff;
         (b)   A complete leak check was performed;
         (c)   Flow tests performed on the meter(s);
         (d)   Install, per existing policy, a replacement meter if found appropriate;
         (e)   Provide historical information on customer usage.
      (4)   Relief to be provided. If all conditions of this subsection have been met, then the City Manager shall adjust the billing as follows:
         (a)   No adjustment for sanitation collection;
         (b)   Adjust the billing for the water and sanitary sewer to a level consistent with the historic use of the customer;
         (c)   Collect the administrative fee and complete payment of the bill.
      (5)   Limitations of relief. The city understands that unknown problems may occur that could periodically contribute to the occurrence of an unexpectedly high water billing; however, the city expects that precautions will be taken by users to protect and maintain plumbing which is free from defect and not prone to failure, e.g., fixing leaking stools, dripping/running faucets, protect exposed piping from freezing. If a customer who has previously sought relief is to ever again seek relief, that customer shall be held to the highest burden of proof that they in no way contributed to the conditions that resulted in such a high bill. Further, if the customer is a renter, and the landlord is found to have failed to provide plumbing that is free of defect and/or free of the potential for failure, specifically when told previously by the city of what defects may exist, then no relief will be provided, and the city may cease water service until such time that the plumbing defects are addressed to the satisfaction of the city.
   (I)   Water lien; petition for relief. A property owner who has had a water lien recorded against his property by the city for nonpayment of water service charges may petition the City Manager for relief pursuant to the following rules, factors and regulations.
      (1)   Petition for relief. The owner of the property upon which the water lien was recorded may file a petition for relief at the Office of the City Clerk, on forms provided by the City Clerk, which provides, at a minimum, the following information:
         (a)   The name, address and telephone number of the property owner.
         (b)   The address, legal description and tax parcel number of the property upon which a city water lien was recorded.
         (c)   The date recorded and recording number of the city water lien.
         (d)   The outstanding amount of the water bill, the nonpayment of which caused the recording of the water lien.
         (e)   The name, address and telephone number of the water service customer, whose nonpayment resulted in the filing of a city water lien.
         (f)   The reasons why relief from the city water lien is requested and should be granted.
         (g)   The signature of the applicant seeking relief.
         (h)   Payment of a $25 non-refundable filing fee.
      (2)   City action.
         (a)   Upon his or her receipt of the petition for relief, the City Manager shall review all information regarding the city water lien, and at his or her discretion, shall grant the petition for relief if the applicant has met one of the following factors:
            1.   According to the Illinois Compiled Statutes, the statute of limitations to foreclose on the water lien has expired.
            2.    A civil judgment has been rendered against the water customer or property owner in favor of the city for collection of the unpaid water bill charges, acting as a statutory release of the water lien.
            3.   Maintaining and foreclosing on the water lien will result in a particular hardship to the applicant. Such hardship must be demonstrated to be unique to that individual and not generally applicable to other water service customers;
            4.   Maintaining and foreclosing on the water lien would result in a negative impact on the community.
         (b)   If at his or her discretion none of the above factors apply, the City Manager shall deny the petition for relief. A written notification of the decision shall be provided to the applicant of the petition for relief.
         (c)   If the petition is granted, the City Manager shall direct the City Attorney, or such other city employee as the City Manager may elect, to record a release of lien with the Henry County Recorder's Office.
            1.   The applicant of the petition for relief shall bear the full costs of recording the release of lien with the Henry County Recorder's Office.
            2.   The release of lien shall not be recorded until such time as the City Clerk receives such recordation costs from the applicant.
(Ord. 2953, passed 1-10-95; Am. Ord. 3106, passed 6-23-97; Am. Ord. 3200, passed 2-22-99; Am. Ord. 3352, passed 8-12-02; Am. Ord. 3503, passed 4-10-06; Am. Ord. 3538, passed 5-29-07; Am. Ord. 3563, passed 12-10-07)