Chapter 14.01
UTILITY RATES AND BILLING PROCEDURES

Sections:

14.01.010    Definitions.

14.01.020    Title application.

14.01.030    Methodology for utility rates.

14.01.035    Utility rates and charges established.

14.01.040    Reduced utility rates for low-income senior citizens and low-income disabled persons residing in the corporate limits of the city of Puyallup.

14.01.050    Establishment of service – Fee.

14.01.060    Billing procedures.

14.01.070    Utility bill payment extensions.

14.01.080    Protests to rates and charges.

14.01.090    Penalties for nonpayment of bills.

14.01.100    Disconnection of service due to nonpayment.

14.01.110    Notices and correspondence.

14.01.120    Partial payments – Method for applying payments to a utility bill.

14.01.130    Re-establishment of credit.

14.01.140    Billing adjustments due to water leaks.

14.01.010 Definitions.

For the purpose of this title, the following words and phrases are defined and shall be construed as set forth in this chapter, unless otherwise expressly stated or the context clearly indicates a different intention. The definitions of words and phrases used in this title and not specifically defined in this chapter shall be their common meaning.

“Account” means the method of classifying customers for the purpose of utility billing.

“Administrator” means the city of Puyallup development services administrator or his or her designee.

“Applicant” means the person, firm, association, corporation, or government agency applying for service.

“Bill date” is the date stated on the face of the utility bill.

“Billing period” means the time interval between two consecutive actual or estimated meter readings that are made for billing purposes.

“BOD (biochemical oxygen demand)” means the quantity of oxygen utilized in the biochemical oxidation of organic matter in five days at 20 degrees Celsius, expressed in milligrams per liter. Quantitative analysis shall be made in accordance with procedures set forth in “Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater,” current edition.

“Building permit” means the written authorization issued by the city of Puyallup building division allowing the initiation of construction of structures or the connection of any building, mobile home, structure, or vehicle with the city of Puyallup utility system.

“City” means the city of Puyallup, a municipality and its employees.

“Commercial” means any establishment or business which is not single-family or multifamily residential. This includes hotels/motels, nonprofit organizations, federal, state and local government-owned facilities. This does not include churches, which are considered to be residential for utility billing purposes.

“Connection fee” means the actual cost incurred by the city in making the physical connection to the water system, including both direct and indirect costs.

“Consumption average” means using the actual or estimated water usage on designated bills in the calculation of an arithmetic average.

“Council” means the city council of the city of Puyallup.

“Customer” is the person in whose name the account is established and the bill is issued. This is the person who is primarily responsible for payment of the utility bill. This would include the property owner who is ultimately responsible for payment of utility bills for their properties.

“Department” means the city of Puyallup development services department, the city of Puyallup public works department, or the city of Puyallup finance department.

“Developed parcel” means any parcel which has been altered by construction of any improvements or other impervious surface area which affects the hydraulic properties of the parcel.

“Double-check valve assembly (DCVA)” means an assembly which is effective against backflow caused by backpressure and backsiphonage, and is used to protect the water system from objectionable substances which may constitute a low hazard.

“Equivalent surface unit (ESU)” means a configuration of development or hard surface on a parcel, estimated to contribute an amount of runoff to the city’s storm and surface water drainage system which is approximately equal to that created by the average single-family residential parcel. One ESU is equal to 2,800 square feet of hard surface area or any portion thereof.

“Fixture unit weight” means the value ascribed to certain plumbing devices as defined by the current edition of the Uniform Plumbing Code as adopted by the city of Puyallup.

“Grease interceptor” means a device “minimum size 750 gallons” located underground and outside of a food service facility designed to collect, contain or remove food waste and grease from a waste stream while allowing the balance of the liquid waste to discharge to the wastewater collection system by gravity.

“Hard surface” means an impervious surface, a permeable pavement, or a vegetated roof.

“Impervious surface” means a nonvegetated surface area that either prevents or retards the entry of water into the soil mantle as under natural conditions prior to development. A nonvegetated surface area which causes water to run off the surface in greater quantities or at an increased rate of flow from the flow present under natural conditions prior to development. Common impervious surfaces include, but are not limited to, roof tops, walkways, patios, driveways, parking lots or storage areas, concrete or asphalt paving, gravel roads, packed earthen materials, and oiled, macadam or other surfaces which similarly impede the natural infiltration of storm water. Open, uncovered retention/detention facilities shall not be considered as impervious surfaces for purposes of determining whether the thresholds for application of minimum requirements are exceeded. Open, uncovered retention/detention facilities shall be considered impervious surfaces for purposes of runoff modeling.

“Main extension” means the extension or replacement of water distribution mains and necessary facilities beyond existing service facilities up to but not including the mains within a development. Exception: where the city has required service through the development for future developments, the city will specifically identify such mains.

“Metered service” means service for which charges are computed on the basis of measured quantities of water.

“Multifamily” means any residential housing consisting of two or more separate living units.

“NAICS” means North American Industry Classification System.

“NPDES” means National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.

“Parcel” means the smallest separately segregated unit or plot of land having an identified owner, boundaries, and surface area which is documented for tax purposes and given a tax account (lot) number by the Pierce County assessor.

“POTW” means publicly owned treatment works.

“Pressure vacuum breaker assembly (PVBA)” means an assembly which is designed to be effective against backsiphonage, and is used to protect the water system from substances which may constitute a low hazard. It is not acceptable for premises or service protection except for lawn sprinkler systems.

“Private fire protection service” means service to customers supplied for fire protection of specific facilities.

“Public works policy” means written regulations, guidelines, policies and the like adopted by the development services administrator or his or her designee for the purpose of interpreting, implementing or enforcing provisions of this title, which shall have the full force and effect of law, and copies of which shall be maintained for public inspection and copying during regular business hours at the offices of the city’s development services department.

“Reduced pressure backflow assembly (RPBA)” means an assembly which is normally used in locations where an approved air gap is impractical. The assembly is effective against backflow caused by backpressure and backsiphonage, and is used to protect the potable water system from substances that constitute a high hazard.

“Reduced pressure detector assembly (RPDA)” means an assembly which operates and functions exactly as a reduced pressure backflow assembly, with the addition of a factory-installed bypass feature. This bypass feature is designed to monitor low flows on high hazard fire systems, is used to detect the unauthorized use of water allocated for fire protection, and/or to detect leaks in the fire system piping. It includes a water meter on the bypass line.

“Runoff” means the portion of the precipitation either from rain or melted snow that ultimately reaches natural watercourses by flowing over the surface of land.

“Sanitary sewer” means a sewer which carries wastewater, and to which storm, surface, ground and other unpolluted water are not intentionally admitted, except as provided in this chapter.

“Service charge” means the flat fee included in the water or sanitary sewer portion of the bimonthly utility bill that the customer must pay the city for the availability of water and/or sanitary sewer service, irrespective of whether the water and/or sanitary sewer system is used.

“Service connection” means the point of connection of the customer’s piping with the city’s facilities (i.e., meter or service pipe).

“Service pipe” means the connection between the city’s mains and the service connection, including all of the pipe, fittings and valves necessary to make the connections.

“Significant industrial user” means either an industrial user subject to categorical pretreatment standards under 40 CFR Section 403.6 and 40 CFR Chapter I Subchapter N, or any other industrial user that (1) discharges an average of 25,000 gallons per day or more of process wastewater to the POTW (excluding sanitary, noncontact cooling and boiler blow down wastewater), (2) contributes to a process waste stream which makes up five percent or more of the average dry weather hydraulic or organic capacity of the POTW treatment plant, (3) is designated as such by the city on the basis that the industrial user has a reasonable potential for adversely affecting the POTW’s operation or for violating any pretreatment standard or requirement.

“Single-family residential parcel” means any parcel of land which is improved with a dwelling unit for occupancy by a single family or a similar group of people. A “single-family residential parcel” may also be an individual dwelling, mobile home, flat or unit in a multifamily building or portion thereof for occupancy as the home, residence or sleeping place for one or more persons, provided each such dwelling, mobile home, flat or unit occupy the same parcel of land, the parcel shall be subject to charges under this chapter.

“Study” means the 2004 Waterworks Utility Rate and System Development Charge Study prepared by Gray & Osborne, Inc., consulting engineers for the city of Puyallup, a copy of which shall be maintained on file in the city clerk’s office.

“System average” means the computer-generated water consumption average based on user type.

“System development charge (SDC)” means the charge levied for pro rata share of the current and future physical utility system.

“Tapping fee” means the actual cost incurred by the city of Puyallup in making the physical connection between the customer’s service line and the water system, including both direct and indirect costs.

“Temporary service” means service to premises where it is known in advance that the service will be of limited duration.

“Total suspended solids (TSS)” means solids that either float on the surface of, or are in suspension in, water, wastewater or other liquids, and which are removable by laboratory filtering. Quantitative analysis shall be made in accordance with procedures set forth in the current edition of “Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater” (published by APHA, WEF, AWWA), latest edition.

“Undeveloped parcel” means any parcel which has not been altered by construction of any improvements or other impervious surface area, which affects the hydraulic properties of the parcel.

“User specific contract” means a contract executed by the development services administrator with a Category IV wastewater utility customer wherein such customer is billed a uniform rate based on methods and procedures to determine wastewater volume and strength of wastewater discharged as outlined in accordance with the established public works policy.

“Water permit” means the permit issued by the department for the connection of a parcel or facility to the city’s water system.

“Yard line” means all piping between the building or structure and service connections. (Ord. 3130 § 1 (Exh. A), 2016; Ord. 3115 § 1, 2016; Ord. 2806 § 1, 2004; Ord. 2593 § 1, 1999).

14.01.020 Title application.

This title shall apply to the city of Puyallup and to persons outside the city who are, by contract or agreement with the city, users of any city utility. (Ord. 2593 § 1, 1999).

14.01.030 Methodology for utility rates.

(1) The director of finance and administrator of development services shall conduct an annual review of the utility system contributions by users and user classes and the total costs of operation and maintenance of the city utilities.

(2) The following is a description of the methodology used to determine rates for utility facilities and services furnished by, through or for the use of the city. These rates are found to be reasonable and just, taking into account the cost and value of the system, the cost of maintaining and operating the system, the necessary allowances for depreciation and the amount necessary for the retirement of all bonds payable from the revenues of the system.

(a) Water Rates. Bimonthly rates for all customers shall be computed according to the schedule of rates documented in the 2004 Waterworks Utility Rate and SDC Study for the years 2005 through 2009. Water rates include a service charge and consumption charge.

(i) Bimonthly service charges are fees for being connected to the water utility and vary based on the size of water meter, but are unaffected by water consumption.

(A) Single-family residential customers will be billed a flat bimonthly rate as specified for a five-eighths-inch water meter.

(B) Multifamily customers will be billed a bimonthly rate based on meter size, for each installed water meter until January 1, 2006. After that date, multifamily bimonthly rates will be based on 75 percent of the single-family residential rate multiplied by the number of units (regardless of occupancy rates). This rate change reflects the fact that multifamily customers’ water consumption is residential and not commercial in nature. The 75 percent multiplier is based on the ratio of occupancy density of each multifamily unit to that of a single-family residence according to the 2000 United States Census.

(C) Commercial customers will be billed a bimonthly rate based on meter size. Increased rates for larger water meters reflect greater water consumption or higher peak demand requirements (e.g., fire flow) that increase system costs.

(ii) Consumption charges are based on bimonthly water consumption and include rates that increase with higher consumption (known as inclined block rates) for single-family customers and are uniform (one rate regardless of water consumption) for multifamily and commercial customers. Inclined block rates are used for single-family residences because as a customer class they have the largest change in consumption from winter months to summer months, referred to as peaking. Peak consumption impacts the design of sources of supply and storage which increase system costs. The use of inclined block rates promotes water conservation which reduces system costs and the demands placed on limited water resources. Other customer classes have significantly lower peaking factors and are charged uniform rates for water consumption.

(A) Single-family residential customers are billed for bimonthly consumption based on three blocks of water usage, zero to 1,000 cubic feet, 1,001 to 2,400 cubic feet, and consumption greater than 2,400 cubic feet at inclined block rates.

(B) Multifamily and commercial customers are billed a uniform rate for all water consumption.

(iii) Service to customers outside the city limits shall be billed at the computed inside city rate.

(iv) Where there is more than one single-family residence connected to one water meter, each residence shall receive a bimonthly bill which includes service and consumption charges. Consumption charges shall be split between the number of residences on the water meter.

(b) Sewer Rates. Bimonthly rates for all customers shall be computed according to the schedule of rates documented in the 2004 Waterworks Utility Rate and SDC Study for the years 2005 through 2009. Sewer rates include service charges, usage charges and strength of waste charges.

(i) Bimonthly service charges are fees for being connected to the sewer utility and do not vary with wastewater flow or strength and therefore all customer classes are billed the same bimonthly rate.

(A) Single-family customers are billed a uniform bimonthly rate for each sewer service connection.

(B) Multifamily customers will be billed a uniform bimonthly rate based on the number of sewer service connections until January 1, 2006. After that date, multifamily service charge rates will be based on 75 percent of the single-family residential rate multiplied by the number of units (regardless of occupancy rates). This change reflects the fact that multifamily customers’ wastewater service is residential, not commercial, in nature. The 75 percent multiplier is based on the ratio of occupancy density of each multifamily unit to that of a single-family residence according to the 2000 United States Census.

(C) Commercial customers are billed a uniform bimonthly rate for each sewer service connection.

(ii) Usage charges are based on wastewater flow and a uniform rate for all customer classes.

(A) Single-family residential customers are billed for usage based on a uniform rate and wastewater flow estimate based on water consumption (see subsections (2)(b)(iii) and (2)(b)(iv) of this section).

(B) Multifamily customers are billed for usage based on a uniform rate and wastewater flow estimate based on water consumption (see subsections (2)(b)(iii) and (2)(b)(iv) of this section).

(C) Commercial/industrial customers are billed for usage based on a uniform rate and wastewater flow estimate based on water consumption (see subsections (2)(b)(iii) and (2)(b)(iv) of this section) or measured wastewater flow.

(iii) Estimated wastewater flow for customers receiving water service from the city:

(A) Bills with bill dates between June 1st and November 30th of each year shall have the sewer portion of the bill based on a consumption average or actual consumption, whichever is less. Bills with bill dates between December 1st and May 31st shall have the sewer portion of the bill based on actual water usage.

(B) If a customer relocates to a new service address inside the city sewer service area, the previously established consumption average will be applied to the new address until the new average is calculated. A customer who does not have two complete, consecutive bills at the time of recalculation of the consumption average will be assigned the residential or commercial system average, depending on account type. Closing or partial bill will not be included in the calculation of the consumption average.

(C) There will be no adjustments to the sewer portion of utility bills for the intentional use of water for irrigation, the filling of swimming pools, ponds, hot tubs, pressure washing or similar activities on bills dated between December 1st and May 31st.

(D) Any customer not residing in the residence for two full billing cycles for bills dated between January 1st and April 30th will be assigned the system average.

(E) The following types of commercial customers will be billed on actual water usage for sanitary sewer service and will not be eligible for the consumption average: food processing operations where the water usage increases by 50 percent on a seasonal basis. This does not include accounts where water usage increases as a result of irrigation.

(iv) Estimated wastewater flow for customers on other water systems:

(A) Where a customer is connected to a water system not operated by the city of Puyallup, the water system official shall deliver a copy of billings showing water consumption and consumption period to the utilities division to allow proper and timely billing of sewer charges.

(B) Where a customer is not connected to a public water system, the system average for the account type will be used for sanitary sewer billing. Such customers shall also pay the bimonthly service charges.

(v) Strength of Waste. The city will charge commercial customers “strength of waste charges.” Strength of waste charges reflect the higher cost to treat and dispose of wastewater flows with strength substantially higher than that of an average single-family residence. Strength of waste is measured in terms of BOD and/or TSS concentrations (mg/L). Strength of waste BOD and/or TSS charges are based on ranges of BOD and/or TSS strength concentrations identified in the following four categories.

(A) Category I – Low BOD and/or TSS Strength Discharge. Typical single-family residence strength concentrations.

(B) Category II – Medium BOD and/or TSS Strength Discharge. Mid-range in excess of single-family residence strength.

(C) Category III – High BOD and/or TSS Strength Discharge. High range in excess of single-family residence strength.

(D) Category IV – Industrial BOD and/or TSS Strength Discharge. Industrial range in excess of single-family residence strength.

(vi) Classification of commercial customers as Category I, II, III, and IV strength customers:

(A) The city shall use the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) to classify all industrial/commercial customers as Category I, II, or III customers as specified in the public works policy. The following list of commercial descriptions are provided for illustrative purposes only.

1. Category I. Office buildings, schools, retail sales without food service, nursing and retirement homes, hospitals.

2. Category II. Drinking establishments with microwave food service only, coffee shops, ice cream shops, and gas stations with microwave food service only.

3. Category III. Restaurants, grocery stores, supermarkets, sandwich shops, pizza shops, and gas stations with food service.

(B) All customers designated as significant industrial users (SIU) are defined as Category IV strength customers.

(vii) Strength of Waste BOD Charges. BOD charges are based on rates documented in the 2004 Waterworks Utility Rate and SDC Study for the years 2005 through 2009. Strength of waste BOD charges for each strength category are as follows:

(A) Category I strength corresponds to average residential strength that is already included in existing sewer usage charge rates. Therefore, there is no BOD charge for Category I strength customers.

(B) Category II customers are billed a uniform rate based on water consumption and a medium strength BOD concentration.

(C) Category III customers are billed a uniform rate based on water consumption and a high strength BOD concentration.

(D) Category IV customers are billed a uniform rate based on methods and procedures outlined in user-specific contracts.

(viii) Strength of Waste TSS Charges. TSS charges are based on rates documented in the 2004 Waterworks Utility Rate and SDC Study for the years 2005 through 2009. Strength of waste TSS charges for each strength category are as follows:

(A) Category I strength corresponds to average residential strength that is already included in existing sewer usage charge rates. Therefore, there is no TSS charge for Category I strength customers. At this time all commercial activities are assigned as Category I.

(ix) Any food service facility designated as Category III BOD strength can petition the administrator to receive a discount of 25 percent by documenting the installation and maintenance of a properly sized grease interceptor, per city standards. The discount is based on the expected reduction in BOD concentrations for a food service facility that installs and maintains a grease interceptor.

(x) Service to customers outside the city limits shall be billed at the computed inside city rate.

(xi) New Construction. Sanitary sewer charges will commence when the utilities division receives a completed “application to turn on water form.” An adjustment will be granted for sanitary sewer service and usage charges on the first bill after water has been turned on if there is no water consumption. To apply for a one-time billing adjustment, the customer shall be required to submit a written request to the utilities division. After receiving confirmation from the city engineering division that the property was not connected to the sanitary sewer system, the adjustment will be processed.

(c) Storm Sewer Rates. Bimonthly charges for all customers shall be computed according to the schedule of rates documented in the 2004 Waterworks Utility Rate and SDC Study for the years 2005 through 2009. Storm sewer charges are based on a uniform rate for each equivalent surface unit (ESU) of developed property.

(i) One ESU is equal to 2,800 square feet of hard surface area as described in Chapter 14.26 PMC. All residential properties are charged the bimonthly rate for one ESU.

(ii) New Construction for Single-Family Accounts. Full charges for the storm sewer utility for single-family residential accounts shall commence upon issuance of a building permit by the city of Puyallup.

(iii) New Construction for Multifamily and Commercial Accounts.

(A) Full charges for the storm sewer utility with a construction period of less than six months shall commence upon issuance of a building permit by the city of Puyallup.

(B) Multifamily and commercial accounts with a construction period of more than six months shall negotiate a storm sewer billing schedule based on the construction schedule for impervious surface as defined in PMC 14.01.010 during the preconstruction conference conducted by the city engineer for the city of Puyallup. The billing schedule shall be used to prorate storm sewer charges based on the amount of the impervious surface to be constructed by the end of the billing cycle. A copy of the billing schedule shall be sent to the utilities division for billing purposes. Any amendments to the billing schedule shall require 30 days’ written notification to the city engineer. The billing schedule shall be amended only if the construction schedule changes by two months or more (one billing cycle).

(d) City Landfill Operations and Debt Service Fee (Landfill Fee).

Can service: $3.63

Container service: $42.49

The billing procedures for this fee are included in PMC 6.12.047. (Ord. 3130 § 1 (Exh. A), 2016; Ord. 3042 §§ 2, 3, 2013; Ord. 2970 § 2, 2011; Ord. 2806 § 1, 2004; Ord. 2729 § 1, 2002; Ord. 2726 § 1, 2002; Ord. 2641 § 1, 1999; Ord. 2640 § 1, 1999; Ord. 2639 § 1, 1999; Ord. 2638 § 1, 1999; Ord. 2593 § 1, 1999).

14.01.035 Utility rates and charges established.

Utility rates and charges for facilities and services addressed in this title shall be as reflected in the annual budget document as adopted by the city council. Rate adjustments for water, wastewater, and storm water and charges for facilities and services shall be implemented annually to reflect changes in the Construction Cost Index, as rounded to the nearest one-tenth of one percent. For purposes of this section, the Construction Cost Index shall be the most recent July to June Engineering News-Record Construction Cost Index. Rates that are adjusted shall become effective on February 1st of each year, unless otherwise provided by the council. Notwithstanding other provisions of this section, the city council reserves the authority to set or alter utility rates and charges by resolution at any time, provided the resolution is adopted 30 days prior to the effective date of any rate adjustments. (Ord. 3115 § 1, 2016; Ord. 3059 § 1, 2014; Ord. 3028 § 1, 2013; Ord. 2806 § 1, 2004).

14.01.040 Reduced utility rates for low-income senior citizens and low-income disabled persons residing in the corporate limits of the city of Puyallup.

Bimonthly discounts are available to customers who meet the eligibility requirements for low income senior citizens and low income disabled persons. Bimonthly discounts shall be computed according to the schedule of rates documented in the 2004 Waterworks Utility Rate and SDC Study for the years 2005 through 2009. Eligibility requirements for bimonthly discounts are as follows:

(1) Owners of single-family residences, tenants, renters or lessees within the corporate limits of the city of Puyallup who are responsible for payment of the city of Puyallup utility bill, who reside at the service address and who qualify for the low-income senior citizen or low-income disability real estate property tax exemption under state law shall present proof of eligibility thereof to the utilities division and shall qualify and be entitled to a reduction in utility rates as set forth in PMC 14.01.030.

(2) Proof of Eligibility.

(a) Age. Applicants shall present a current driver’s license or a copy of a birth certificate.

(b) Income. Property owners shall present a property tax statement which shows they are receiving the discount from Pierce County. Tenants shall present the most recent income tax statement which shows total household income.

(c) Disability. Property owners shall present a property tax statement which shows they are receiving the discount from Pierce County. A tenant must complete a “Physician’s Certification of Disability” form.

(3) Customers who receive water and/or sewer service from the city of Puyallup and reside outside the corporate city limits of Puyallup and who were receiving the senior discount prior to January 1, 1995, shall continue to receive this discount.

(4) Housing units developed within the corporate limits of the city of Puyallup solely for use by low-income persons who meet the state criteria for the real estate property tax exemption due to status as a senior citizen or disabled person shall be entitled to the equivalent of one rate discount per housing unit. The developer must provide proof to the utilities division that all residents are required to meet or exceed the limits established by the state prior to implementation of this discount. (Ord. 2806 § 1, 2004; Ord. 2729 § 2, 2002; Ord. 2726 § 2, 2002; Ord. 2641 § 2, 1999; Ord. 2640 § 2, 1999; Ord. 2639 § 2, 1999; Ord. 2638 § 2, 1999; Ord. 2593 § 1, 1999).

14.01.050 Establishment of service – Fee.

Any person requesting establishment of water service (for other than nonpayment) and thereby requiring service to be turned on at the requested location must complete an application to turn on water and shall pay a fee in advance of the turn-on. If the customer is unable to pay the fee prior to turn-on, the fee may be added to the utility bill. The fee shall be established, and may be changed, pursuant to Chapter 1.13 PMC. (Ord. 3064 § 1, 2014; Ord. 2762 § 1, 2003; Ord. 2593 § 1, 1999).

14.01.060 Billing procedures.

(1) The city shall bill the owner of the connected property at the rates specified in this chapter. However, the owner may request that the bills be mailed to a tenant or agent. This request shall not relieve the owner from liability for utility charges incurred.

(2) Bills for service will be prepared and mailed to each customer on a bimonthly basis, in sequence by geographical location based on the route established by the meter reader.

(3) Bills for metered service will show the reading of the meter at the end of the period for which the bill was prepared, the consumption amount and the date of the current meter reading.

(4) If, for reasons beyond its control, the city is unable to read a customer’s meter on the scheduled reading date, the city shall bill the customer for estimated consumption during the billing period based on the same billing period during the previous year or the system average, whichever is higher. The billing will be adjusted the next time the meter is read to reflect the actual meter reading.

(5) The water consumption will be estimated if one or more of the following conditions exist:

(a) Severe weather;

(b) Deposits of heavy snow or ice;

(c) Vicious dog;

(d) Some unusual circumstance which makes it impossible to read the meter, such as a vehicle or debris covering the meter box. If an obstruction prevented the meter reader from accessing the meter, the bill will be estimated as described in subsection (4) of this section. At the time the bill is issued, the utility billing supervisor will send written notification to the owner requesting that the obstruction be removed immediately. If the obstruction continues into a second billing cycle, the bill will be estimated at double the previous estimate. A second notice will be sent to the property owner requesting removal of the obstruction and notifying the owner that this concern has been forwarded to the city attorney for possible legal action. The city has the authority to enter property to clear an obstructed water meter.

(6) Each residence on a parcel shall be metered independently and considered to be a separate utility account. Each customer will be billed individually including the service and usage charges.

(7) The bimonthly service charge applicable to opening periods, closing bills and bills rendered for periods less than 55 days will be prorated to the nearest half-month. The amount of consumption will be determined by the actual meter reading for the billing period.

(8) Bills for service are due and payable by 5:00 p.m. on the due date specified on the bill. Payment may be made through the mail, in person to the city’s utilities division or through the city’s night drop. Closing bill payments are due upon receipt. The failure of the postal service to deliver a payment in a timely manner shall not be cause for waiver of penalties or for waiver of discontinuance of service as provided in this chapter.

(9) Any unpaid balance left on a utility account will be a lien on the property as described in PMC 14.01.100(3). This will include all unpaid balances from tenants, previous or current owners. (Ord. 2593 § 1, 1999).

14.01.070 Utility bill payment extensions.

(1) The utilities division supervisor may extend a payment date if the property owner/tenant can show just cause.

(2) A payment arrangement form must be completed and signed by the owner/tenant responsible for paying the bill and a representative of the city’s utilities division to become binding. If the extension is granted for a tenant, a copy will be sent to the owner. The property owner has the right to request that no extensions be granted to their tenants.

(3) Once a payment arrangement form is approved, no additional notices will be sent to the customer and payments shall be made in the manner described on the form.

(4) If payment is not received in the manner described on the form, the service shall be discontinued with no additional notification. To have service restored after it has been disconnected, the fees described in PMC 14.01.100(2) will be applied. (Ord. 2593 § 1, 1999).

14.01.080 Protests to rates and charges.

(1) If a customer is dissatisfied with any utility charge imposed in this chapter, the customer may file a written protest with the financial operations manager setting forth their objections provided such protest is filed within 15 calendar days from the bill date of the bill being protested.

(2) Upon receipt of any such protest, the financial operations manager or a designee shall, within 15 calendar days, make a determination in writing as to the correctness of the bill.

(3) If the customer is dissatisfied with the decision, the customer may appeal to the city manager provided such appeal is filed within 10 calendar days of receipt of the financial operations division’s decision. A condition precedent to such appeal is the payment to the city of the amount of the disputed bill. The payment will be refunded if the city manager overturns the previous decision. (Ord. 2593 § 1, 1999).

14.01.090 Penalties for nonpayment of bills.

(1) Any bill not paid within 27 calendar days of the billing date is delinquent.

(2) Any bill not paid by 3:00 p.m. on the thirty-third calendar day after the billing date shall be assessed a penalty of five percent of the bill with no minimum penalty. A past due notice will be mailed to the billing address and owner, if different. (Ord. 2762 § 2, 2003; Ord. 2593 § 1, 1999).

14.01.100 Disconnection of service due to nonpayment.

(1) Any customer who has a bill not paid by 9:00 a.m. on the forty-eighth calendar day after the billing date shall have water service disconnected. The city may provide notice by hanging a tag on a door or other prominent location two days before water service is discontinued, or provide notice in any other manner as required by law.

(2) Service that is discontinued due to nonpayment shall be restored after a completed application to turn-on water form is signed by the customer, and a $50.00 turn-on fee (during working hours) is paid. If the request to restore service is made after working hours, the overtime rate will be charged to the customer.

(3) A lien for delinquent charges may be placed upon the property being served by filing a notice with the county assessor. The city shall send a written notice of filing to the recorded owner of the property. County assessor’s fees for filing and releasing liens will be charged to the customer. (Ord. 3024 § 1, 2012; Ord. 2762 § 3, 2003; Ord. 2593 § 1, 1999).

14.01.110 Notices and correspondence.

(1) Notice to a customer will normally be in writing and will be hand-delivered or mailed to the customer’s last known address. In emergencies, or when circumstances warrant, the city will endeavor to promptly notify the customer(s) affected and may make such notification orally, either in person or by telephone.

(2) Correspondence from customers regarding utility billing shall be sent to the utilities division at City Hall. Correspondence from customers regarding utility services shall be sent to the director of public works. (Ord. 2593 § 1, 1999).

14.01.120 Partial payments – Method for applying payments to a utility bill.

(1) In the event a customer makes a partial payment on their utility bill, credit shall be given first to the storm water utility charges, second to the “landfill fee,” third to the charges for sanitary sewer service and lastly to the charges for water service.

(2) Partial payments shall be applied to the most recent charges. Any remaining charges shall continue to accrue time and penalties.

(3) If a utility account becomes delinquent after a partial payment has been made, water service may be terminated by the city and discontinued until all past due charges have been paid in full. The provisions for collection provided herein shall be in addition to any rights or remedies which the city may have under the laws of the state. (Ord. 2593 § 1, 1999).

14.01.130 Re-establishment of credit.

Repealed by Ord. 2762. (Ord. 2593 § 1, 1999).

14.01.140 Billing adjustments due to water leaks.

(1) To apply for a billing adjustment due to a water leak, a customer shall submit a written request to the utilities division. The request shall include the date the leak was repaired and copies of the repair bills or materials receipt.

(2) Upon receipt of the request, the water division shall check the meter to ensure that the leak has been fixed.

(3) After receiving confirmation that the leak has been fixed, the utilities division shall analyze the utility account. If the water consumption for the same billing period in the previous year was greater than the consumption for the period in which the leak occurred, no adjustment will be made. For new owners or renters occupying the premises for less than one year, the consumption used to determine the adjustment amount will be based upon the following:

(a) An average of the water consumption in the three complete billing periods immediately preceding the billing period in which the leak began.

(b) In the absence of three complete billing periods, the water consumption from the previous residence for the same billing period in the previous year, if the residence was on the city of Puyallup water system.

(c) In the event neither (3)(a) nor (3)(b) is applicable, the system average will be applied.

(d) If the total dollar amount of the adjustment for water and sewer is greater than $25.00 (or $15.00 for a water-only account), the customer shall be eligible for an adjustment. Customers who receive a low-income discount are eligible for an adjustment if the total dollar amount of the adjustment for water and sewer is greater than $10.00 (or $5.00 for a water-only account).

(e) A billing adjustment as a result of a leak will be made for one billing period. If a leak adversely affects two bills and the customer showed due diligence in fixing the leak in a timely manner, a second adjustment will be considered by the financial operations manager.

(f) The maximum number of billing adjustments as a result of a leak is one per 12-month period except as provided in subsection (e) of this section.

(g) The monetary adjustment shall be made on the bill following the adjustment request. An adjustment will also be made to the water consumption amount so that the consumption average will be calculated based on the adjusted usage.

(h) Payment of the bill which includes the leak is due on the date stated on the bill. If the customer is unable to pay the entire bill as a result of the leak, the customer shall pay the amount of the previous bill until the billing adjustment has been processed. If the customer pays the full amount of the previous bill by the due dated stated on the current bill, the outstanding balance on the current bill will not be penalized and the service to the account will continue.

(i) Once the adjustment has been processed, any amounts owed will be due on the date stated on the adjustment letter. A credit to the account will be made on the date stated on the adjustment letter. (Ord. 2593 § 1, 1999).