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(A) Clerk-Treasurer responsible for utility billing and collection. In addition to the statutory duties of the Clerk-Treasurer, the Clerk-Treasurer, or his or her designee, shall be responsible for the billing and collection of the town utility’s rates and charges, garbage collection service fees, and tall grass and weed abatement fees, charges and penalties.
(B) Establishing connection to the town’s utilities.
(1) Residents who desire to receive town water, wastewater, storm water and trash services shall submit a completed service application.
(2) On existing lines, the water connection and inspection fees and the wastewater connection and inspection fees set forth in § 10.98 shall apply.
(3) The Clerk-Treasurer may assess a water service deposit and wastewater service deposit as set forth in § 10.98, which shall be credited to the final bill. Any excess shall be refunded to the rate payer. Said deposits may be waived at the discretion of the Clerk-Treasurer when the owner of an owner-occupied property provides the Clerk-Treasurer with a copy of the last recorded deed for the property. In the event that a resident applies for service, but has previously left the town with an unpaid utility account which was unpaid and expensed as a bad debt loss, the resident must first pay any prior account balance which was unpaid before service may be granted.
(4) All requests for connection to line outside the town shall include a written waiver of objection to annexation which, prior to service, shall be executed and recorded with the County Recorder at the applicant’s cost.
(5) Following disconnection, service may be reconnected on Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. upon the payment of a reconnection fee in addition to the payment of a water meter reinstallation fee, if the meter has been pulled from the property, as set forth in § 10.98.
(6) Commercial site plan review. For each commercial development, the applicant for utility services must pay a commercial site plan review fee as set forth in § 10.98.
(7) Significant upgrades to utility services. For significant upgrades to utility services, the town may recover the costs, from the developer or property owner, as negotiated.
(C) Billing procedures.
(1) The rates and charges shall be prepared and billed by the town monthly, as the town may deem appropriate and as determined by the bylaws and regulations of the town as hereinafter provided for, and shall be collected in the manner provided by law and ordinance.
(a) The rates and charges will be billed to the tenant or tenants occupying the property served unless otherwise requested in writing by the owners, but the billing shall in no way relieve the owner from liability in the event payment is not made as herein required.
(b) The property owner will receive a delinquency notice on leased properties.
(c) The owners of the properties served, which are occupied by tenants, shall have the right to examine the collection records of the town for the purpose of determining whether the rates and charges have been paid by the tenants, provided that the examination shall be made in the office in which the records are kept and during the hours that the office is open for business.
(2) The following dates apply to town water, wastewater, storm water, garbage collection or tall grass and weed abatement bills:
(a) First day of month: bills are sent to rate payers; and
(b) Fifteenth day of month: payment is due on bills sent on the first day of the month.
(3) Payment is due on the date of billing. Users shall have until on or before the fifteenth day of the month of billing to pay the billing without penalty. Accounts not paid within the period shall be delinquent and a penalty equal to 10% of the sum due shall be assessed as a surcharge and added to the user’s bill. In the event the account holder had a prior unpaid balance, any payments shall be first applied to the oldest billing, and then to the next oldest billing, until the account balance is paid in full. Partial payments shall be applied first to water, second to trash, third to wastewater and lastly to storm water.
(4) Upon a bill becoming delinquent, a user shall have two weeks to pay the bill before the disconnection procedure described herein is utilized. Disconnection, may be avoided only by the owner, user or lessee paying the full account balance, including penalties.
(5) (a) The town may offer a payment plan to users whose accounts are delinquent upon the following conditions:
1. The user has not breached any similar payment plan with the utility within the preceding 12 months;
2. The payment plan is pre-approved by the Town Clerk-Treasurer;
3. The payment plan is in writing, signed by the user and a representative of the Town Clerk-Treasurer;
4. The payment plan must provide that full payment will be made within three months of its signing; and
5. Unless waived by the Town Council, the user has not had entered into a similar payment plan within the preceding 12 months.
(b) If the user breaches the agreement, the disconnection procedure described herein shall be utilized.
(6) Owners, whether or not occupying the premises served, shall be responsible to the town for unpaid water, wastewater, storm water, garbage collection and tall grass and weed abatement fees, penalties and charges.
(D) Collection of delinquent water, wastewater, storm water, garbage collection and tall grass and weed abatement fees, charges and penalties.
(1) Water, wastewater, storm water, garbage collection or tall grass and weed abatement fees are fees assessed against real property, and constitute a lien against the property assessed. The lien attaches when a notice of lien, described below, is recorded in the office of the County Recorder, except in the following circumstances:
(a) A fee is not enforceable as a lien against a subsequent owner of property unless the lien for the fee was recorded with the County Recorder before the conveyance to the subsequent owner. If the property is conveyed before the lien can be filed, the town shall notify the person who owned the property at the time the fee became payable. The notice shall inform the former owner that payment, including penalty fees for delinquencies, is due not more than 15 days after the date of the notice, if payment is not received within 180 days after the date of the notice, the amount due may be expensed as a bad debt loss; or
(b) A lien attaches against real property occupied by someone other than the owner only if the utility notified the owner within 20 days after the time the utility fees became 60 days delinquent; however, the utility is required to give notice to the owner if the owner has given the town utility office written notice of the address to which the owner’s notice is to be sent. A notice sent to the owner under this division (D) must be sent certified mail, return receipt requested, to: the owner of record of real properly with a single owner; or at least one of the real property with multiple owners; at the last address of the owner for the property as indicated in the records of the County Auditor on the dated of the notice. The cost of sending notice under this division (D)(1)(b) is an administrative cost that may be billed to the owner.
(2) If the water, wastewater, storm water, garbage collection or tall grass and weed abatement fees, charges and penalties are not paid within the time fixed by ordinance, they are delinquent. The Clerk-Treasurer, or his or her designee, is charged with the responsibility to collect delinquent water, wastewater, storm water, garbage collection and tall grass and weed abatement fees, charges and penalties (the “delinquent fees”). The Clerk-Treasurer shall review all delinquent accounts every month, or as necessary and attempt to collect the delinquents fees in any of the following manners, pursuant to I.C. 36-1-3, 36-9-23 and 36-7-10.1:
(a) By filing a civil action in the name of the town, pursuant to I.C. 36-9-23-31;
(b) Collection by the County Auditor’s and Treasurer’s Offices following the recording of a notice of lien pursuant to I.C. 36-9-23-33, in the manner described herein; or
(c) By foreclosing a lien following the recording of a notice of lien, pursuant to I.C. 36-9-23-34.
(3) In lieu of collection, the Town Council may write off delinquent fees that are for less than $40, pursuant to I.C. 36-9-23-33(m).
(4) Filing a civil action: the Clerk-Treasurer may cause a civil action to be filed in the name of the town to collect delinquent fees. A penalty of 10% of the amount of the delinquent fees attaches to the delinquent fees, and the amount of the delinquent fees, the penalty and a reasonable attorney’s fee may be recovered in a civil action brought in the name of the town, against the owners, lessees or users of the property served by the utility or benefit by the services provided, pursuant to I.C. 36-9-23-31 and 36-1-3-6.
(5) Collection through recording a notice of lien: the Clerk-Treasurer may defer enforcing the collection of delinquent fees until the delinquent fees have been due and unpaid for at least 90 days, or when any tall grass and weed abatement fees, charges and penalties have been due and unpaid for at least 30 days. Thereafter, the Clerk-Treasurer may utilize the procedures as described in I.C. 36-9-23-33 to collect the delinquent fees, summarized as follows.
(a) As often as the Clerk-Treasurer determines is necessary in a calendar year, the Clerk-Treasurer shall prepare a notice of lien for each lot or parcel of real property on which fees and penalties are delinquent, listing the amount of fees, charges and penalties which are delinquent, together with the costs of recording and service charges, on said notice of lien.
(b) The Clerk-Treasurer shall record each notice of lien with the County Recorder, and shall then mail to each property owner on the notice of lien a notice stating that a lien against the owner’s property has been recorded. A service charge of $5, a County Auditor’s certification fee of $15, the cost of recording the notice of lien and the costs of recording a release of lien, shall be added to the amount due for each notice of lien.
(c) Not later than ten days after recording each notice of lien, the Clerk-Treasurer shall certify to the County Auditor a list of the liens that remain unpaid for collection in the next May.
(d) The Clerk-Treasurer shall release any recorded notice of lien when the delinquent fees, and service, certification and recording fees described above, have been fully paid.
(e) Upon receipt of the Clerk-Treasurer’s certified list described above, the County Auditor shall enter on the tax duplicate for the town the delinquent fees, penalties, service charges, recording fees and certification fees, which are due not later than the due date of the next installment of property taxes. The County Treasurer shall then include any unpaid charges for the delinquent fees, penalty, service charge, recording fees and certification fee to the owner or owners of each lot or parcel of property, at the time the next cycle’s property tax installment is billed.
(f) After the Clerk-Treasurer’s certification of liens, the Clerk-Treasurer may not collect or accept delinquent fees, penalties, service charges, recording fees, or certification fees from property owners whose property has been certified to the County Auditor.
(g) If the delinquent fees, penalty, service charge, recording fees and certification fee are not paid, they shall be collected by the County Treasurer in the same way that delinquent property taxes arc collected.
(h) At the time of each semiannual tax settlement, the County Treasurer shall certify to the County Auditor all fees, charges and penalties that have been collected. The County Auditor shall deduct the service charges and certification fees collected by the County Treasurer and pay over the Clerk-Treasurer the remaining fees and penalties due the town. The County Treasurer shall retain the service charges and certification fees that have been collected for deposit in the County General Fund.
(i) Delinquent fees, penalties and service charges that were not recorded before a recorded conveyance shall be removed from the tax roll, and a release of lien shall be recorded, for a purchaser who provides a verified demand in writing to the Clerk-Treasurer and the County Auditor, which states that the delinquent fees were not incurred by the purchaser as a user, lessee or previous owner, and that the purchaser has not been paid by the seller for the delinquent fees.
(j) The Clerk-Treasurer may at any time elect to record a release of the notice of lien, paying the service charges, recording fees and certification fees, decertifying the lien such that collection is not undertaken by the County Auditor and County Treasurer, and seek to collect the delinquent fees by filing a civil action in the manner described above.
(6) Foreclosure of a lien: the town may foreclose a lien for delinquent fees in order to collect the fees and penalties. The town shall recover the amount of the fees and penalties, and a reasonable attorney’s fee. The court shall order the sale to be made without relief from valuation or appraisement law, as provided in I.C. 36-9-23-34.
(E) Disconnection procedures.
(1) If a bill, including penalties, becomes delinquent and is not paid by the bill’s due date, the property served shall be placed on the disconnection list. In addition, the Town Council, or its designated officers, shall terminate service for any user for any of the following reasons:
(a) For any misrepresentation in the service application as to property or fixtures to be supplied, or the use to be made of the water supply;
(b) For willful waste of water through improper or imperfect pipes, fixtures, meters or otherwise;
(c) For failure to keep in good order and to protect the town’s connections, service lines or fixtures;
(d) For damage or molesting any service pipe, meter, curb stop-cock or any other appliance of the company controlling or regulating the water supply;
(e) For neglecting to make agreed payments, or for the non-payment of any account for water supplied, water service, wastewater service, garbage collection, storm water or any other scheduled fee or charge as required;
(f) Payment by dishonored check will be treated as non-payment and penalties will apply as provided herein if such payment is not paid by the appropriate due date. Further, any person who pays with a check which is dishonored or returned for any reason, shall be assessed an additional $25 per check. The town shall be entitled to collect such sum; or
(g) In case of vacancy of the premises.
(2) Prior to the Town Council deciding whether to the disconnect service, the user will be provided an opportunity to present evidence to the Town Council. Town employees will notify users of the possibility of disconnection by mailing disconnection notices to the user on the sixteenth day of each month, or as soon thereafter as possible.
(3) All disconnection notices shall plainly state:
(a) That the user will have an opportunity to present evidence to the Town Council at the Town Council meeting on the first Tuesday of the following month, at 6:00 p.m. prior to the Town Council determining whether to disconnect the service at the property served by the utility;
(b) If the Town Council votes to approve disconnection of utility services at that meeting, the actual disconnection will take place within 48 hours of the meeting;
(c) The reason for disconnection; and
(d) The telephone number of the Town Hall which the user may call during regular business hours in order to question the proposed disconnection or seek information concerning his or her rights.
(4) If disconnection notices are sent in any month, at the first Town Council meeting of the following month, there shall be an agenda item for disconnection hearings. The Town Council shall invite all persons who received disconnection notices to address the Town Council and present evidence concerning the proposed disconnection. At the conclusion of any each hearing, or if no evidence is presented, after determining that no one wishes to address the Town Council and present evidence, the Town Council will decide whether disconnection of utilities should proceed against anyone receiving a disconnection notice.
(5) Within 48 hours of the meeting where the Board votes to disconnect utility service to a property or properties, town employees shall disconnect the utility service of those owners, lessees and users of the properly whose disconnection was approved at said Town Council meeting.
(6) When service is disconnected for non-payment, it will not be reconnected until all past due charges and penalties, together with a reconnection fee, are paid.
(F) Effective date. This section shall become effective as set forth above and after it has been published pursuant to law.
(G) Tampering prohibited. It shall be unlawful for any plumber, pipefitter, property owner or occupant, or other person or persons to attach to, detach from, or in any way tamper with any property of the town water work whatsoever, including water meters, antenna lids and meter pits, without the express written permission and supervision of an employee of the town. Any costs, billings, or charges incurred in repairing, disconnecting or reconnecting a water meter, or repairing or replacing a meter pit, water meter or antenna lid will be billed to the resident and property owner at the hourly rates for town employees defined in § 92.01 of this code, and will be due within 30 days. In addition, violation of this section shall be punishable by a fine as set forth in § 10.99(B)(1). Each day of violation constitutes a separate and distinct violation of this section. The collection of penalties shall be conducted in any manner permitted by law.
(Ord. 2013-0820A, passed 8-20-2013; Ord. 2013-0917, passed 9-17-2013; Ord. 2014-0805C, passed 8-5-2014; Ord. 2018-0918, passed 9-18-2018; Ord. 2019-0319A, passed 3-19-2019)