Chapter 7.50
UTILITY ACCOUNTING, BILLING AND ADMINISTRATION

Sections:

7.50.010    Accounts, how maintained.

7.50.020    Utility deposits.

7.50.030    Suspension and resumption of service.

7.50.040    Utility services fees.

7.50.050    Access to premises.

7.50.060    Private meters.

7.50.070    Home kidney dialysis.

7.50.080    Utility services charges—When due—Delinquency—Suspension of service—Hearing procedure—Liens.

7.50.090    Irrigation accounts.

7.50.100    Damage to city property.

7.50.110    Meter access.

7.50.120    Water used for irrigation not to be charged as wastewater.

7.50.130    Utility liens—Debt recovery.

7.50.140    Special circumstances.

7.50.150    Budget billing.

7.50.010 Accounts, how maintained.

A.    All utility accounts shall be recorded in the utility services division records by the house and street number of the property served, unless otherwise requested in writing, as well as under the account number assigned thereto and the name of the owner or of the person signing the application for service. All bills and notices sent out by the utility services division shall be sent to the house and street number of the property served unless otherwise requested in writing by the tenant, nonresident owner or agent. All bills and notices for irrigation accounts must be sent to the owner of the property. If nonresident owners or agents wish to have personal notice sent to a different address, in addition to the normal billing address, they shall file an application on a form available from the utility services division requesting that service. All utility accounts for premises that have more than one dwelling or commercial unit and which are serviced by one meter shall be kept in the name of the property owner and all bills and account notices shall be sent to the property owner.

The customer whose name is on the account is responsible for reporting changes in account status, including account termination, to the utility services division. The customer named on the account will be responsible for utility charges that occur if the utility services division is not notified of changes in billing status.

B.    For purposes of computing the water service charge, where more than one individual consumer is supplied with water through one meter, the property owner shall be responsible for all charges and the bill shall be computed as follows: the water service charge shall be comprised of two portions, the first consisting of a ready-to-serve charge based on meter size as set forth in YMC 7.68.250, the second consisting of a consumption charge. The minimum consumption charge shall be computed by dividing the total consumption by the number of dwelling units. If the result is less than six units of consumption per dwelling unit, each dwelling unit shall be charged for six units of consumption. If the result is greater than six units of consumption per dwelling unit, then the actual computed consumption per dwelling unit shall be charged to each dwelling unit. This consumption amount shall be charged according to the consumption rates set forth in YMC 7.68.250, then the individual charges added together to obtain the total consumption charge. There shall be no deductions for vacant premises. For purposes of this section, each one-family dwelling unit and each dwelling unit in a two-family dwelling or in a multiple dwelling shall constitute one individual consumer. Further, for purposes of this section, each separate mobile home site within a mobile home court, park or other mobile home complex shall constitute one individual consumer; provided, an automobile trailer court rather than each separate trailer site therein, shall constitute an individual consumer for purposes of this section.

C.    For purposes of computing the wastewater service charge imposed by Chapter 7.60, YMC 7.60.020, 7.60.025 and 7.60.050, each one-family dwelling unit and each dwelling unit in a two-family dwelling or in a multiple dwelling, as all those terms are defined in Title 15, Yakima Urban Area Zoning Ordinance, shall constitute one individual consumer. Further, for purposes of those sections, each separate mobile home site within a mobile home court, park or other mobile home complex shall constitute one individual consumer; provided, an automobile trailer court as defined in Title 15, Yakima Urban Area Zoning Ordinance, of the city of Yakima Municipal Code rather than each separate trailer site therein, shall constitute an individual consumer for purposes of those sections. Each such consumer constitutes a premises to which the minimum wastewater service rate is applicable, and there shall be no deductions for vacant premises. The wastewater service charge shall be comprised of two portions, the first consisting of a ready-to-serve charge, the second consisting of a consumption charge. The ready-to-serve charge shall be a charge for the account, plus a charge for each dwelling unit, as set forth in YMC 7.60.020. The consumption charge shall be the water consumption, minus any credits for deduction meters, multiplied by the rate set forth in YMC 7.60.020.

D.    The city shall reserve the right to allocate partial payments to utility accounts in any way it deems appropriate. (Ord. 2006-07 § 9, 2006: Ord. 97-63 § 5 (part), 1997: Ord. 2904 § 3 (part), 1985).

7.50.020 Utility deposits.

A.    Deposits Required on Initial Service. At the time of application for utility service the director of the department of finance and budget, hereafter called director, or his/her designee, shall require an applicant for domestic water service, wastewater service, irrigation service, refuse service or any individual one of or combination of these services, who is someone other than the owner of the premises to be served, to deposit with the city of Yakima an amount of money to be held as security for the payment of all bills and claims for such utility service. Such deposit shall be an amount equivalent to a three-month domestic water, wastewater, refuse, and irrigation service charge at the premises based upon an average of the preceding twelve months. An applicant, other than the owner of the premises to be served, shall make a deposit or satisfy the credit policy described in subsection C of this section before utility service will be furnished.

B.    Deposit Waiver. The utility services manager shall waive the deposit requirements of an applicant who would otherwise be required to pay a deposit, as set forth in YMC 7.50.020(A), if one of the following criteria is met.

1.    The applicant had prior utility service with the city of Yakima during the previous twelve consecutive months and during that period the applicant received no more than one suspension notice; or

2.    The applicant provides written proof of utility service in another jurisdiction with proof of a satisfactory payment record for at least twelve consecutive months within the past two years.

C.    Deposits on Continued Service. A customer, including the owner of the premises served, shall pay a deposit as provided in this section when the customer’s water service has been disconnected for nonpayment twice in any twelve-month period; or the customer has filed for bankruptcy so as to have required the city of Yakima to file its proof of claim for utility services, not to include Chapter 13 wage earner plans.

D.    Customer Hearing. At least seven days prior to the termination of a customer’s utility service for failure to pay a deposit where service has been established, the utility services manager or his/her designee shall mail a written notice to the customer at the mailing address shown on the account for utility service informing him/her of the date of termination of service, the reasons therefor and informing the customer of his/her right to a hearing before the utility services manager or his/her designee prior to such termination of utility service; provided, that if the customer makes a written request for a hearing prior to the actual termination of utility service, the utility services manager or his/her designee shall conduct a hearing and notify the customer, in writing, of the time, date, and place of such hearing. Pending the outcome of such hearing, utility service shall not be suspended. The utility services manager or his/her designee may hold the hearing as provided herein at the same time as the hearing provided in YMC 7.50.080(A).

E.    Interest on Deposits. Deposits collected under this section shall not bear interest.

F.    Refund of Deposit. A customer who has paid a deposit shall receive a refund of such deposit, at the discretion of the director or his/her designee or under the following circumstances:

1.    The customer makes a request to the utility services manager or his/her designee; and

2.    The customer proved his identity to the satisfaction of the utility services manager or his/her designee; and

3.    The customer has achieved a twelve-consecutive-month or longer utility service history at the premises for which the deposit was made and during the most recent twelve-month period has experienced no service interruption due to nonpayment of charges. (Ord. 2006-07 § 10, 2006: Ord. 2003-20 § 1, 2003: Ord. 97-63 § 5 (part), 1997: Ord. 2904 § 3 (part), 1985).

7.50.030 Suspension and resumption of service.

Utility service is considered to be one service. No individual utility service may be suspended unless all utility services are suspended. Utility service to any temporarily unoccupied premises will be suspended at the customer’s request made to the office of the division of utility services. Charges for utility services for such unoccupied premises will be suspended until the customer requests resumption of service by the customer’s notice to the office of the division of utility services; provided, when the resumption of service is at the request of, or for the benefit of, the customer served at the time service was suspended, an account reinstatement fee, as set forth in YMC 7.50.040(a), shall be charged to and collected from such customer on a subsequent billing. All other normal service charges will be resumed at the time of the resumption of service. (Ord. 2006-07 § 11, 2006).

7.50.040 Utility services fees.

The following fees and charges shall apply when the listed actions are taken/provided by the utility services division and/or water/irrigation division. The fees set forth in the following table shall be considered the base for calculations of future fee increases. Once every two years beginning in March 2008 (or as soon thereafter as reasonably possible based upon availability of the indices set forth herein), an adjustment shall be added to the base figures that is either eighty percent of the December change in the United States Consumer Price Index for Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) for the Seattle, Tacoma, Bremerton region or eighty percent of the December Implicit Price Deflator for Personal Consumer Expenditures, whichever is lower and rounded to the nearest whole dollar, to reflect the changes in inflation for these two indices over the previous two calendar years. (For purposes of determining the change in the CPI, the standard reference base period of 1984 equals one hundred will be used.)

a.

Account reinstatement fee

$17.60

b.

Start temporary water service (less than twenty-four hours in duration)

$22.77

c.

Immediate service—customer request

$17.60

d.

Irrigation shut-off fee

$25.00

e.

Turn-on and shut-off customer request for nonbusiness hours

$50.00/call out*

f.

Meter obstruction charge (after notice)

$45.54

g.

Check read charge, after first accurate check read within one billing cycle

$17.60

h.

Lien processing fee

**

i.

Returned NSF check fee

$40.00

j.

Field visit for delinquency

$45.54

k.

(For future use)

 

l.

Illegal turn-on, tampering of utility service or illegal connection as defined in YMC 7.50.100

$113.85 fine plus 3X cost of any repairs

* “Business hours” for purposes of this section correspond to the work shift of water service specialists established by the city water/irrigation division from time to time. Current work shift hours are Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. through 3:30 p.m., excluding holidays. These hours are subject to change, and the utility services division will update and provide notice of business hours to customers by any means deemed appropriate, including posting of such information on its Internet website.

** This fee will be based on actual cost plus any related costs and taxes incurred.

(Ord. 2012-37 § 1 (Exh. A), 2012: Ord. 2012-17 § 1, 2012: Ord. 2009-49 § 3, 2009: Ord. 2006-07 § 12, 2006).

7.50.050 Access to premises.

The utility services manager, refuse manager, water and irrigation manager and the wastewater manager, or any of their authorized representatives, may enter any premises served by Yakima city utilities at all reasonable times to inspect, repair, or collect city property; provided, that if such building or premises be occupied, said manager or authorized representative shall first present proper credentials and demand entry; and if such building or premises be unoccupied, he shall first make a reasonable effort to locate the owner or other persons having charge or control of the building or premises and demand entry. If such entry is refused, the respective manager or any of his authorized representatives shall have recourse to every remedy provided by law to secure entry.

If the owner or occupant denies entry, the manager or his authorized representative shall obtain a proper inspection warrant or other remedy provided by law to secure entry. No owner or occupant or any other persons having charge, care or control of any building or premises shall fail or neglect, after proper request is made as herein provided, to promptly permit entry therein by the manager or his authorized representative for the purpose of inspection and examination pursuant to this code.

In the case of an emergency, city utility employees shall have the right to enter the premises to repair or suspend service at any time. (Ord. 2006-07 § 13, 2006).

7.50.060 Private meters.

Where the use of water is such that a portion of all water used is lost by evaporation, irrigation, sprinkling or other cause, or is used in producing manufactured goods and commodities, and the customer provides proof of this fact and installs a meter or other measuring device approved by the city utility services manager to enable measurement of the amount of water so used or lost, no wastewater charge shall be made for the amount of water so used or lost, except that in no case will the minimum wastewater charge be reduced. Direct discharge of wastewater to fresh water or to points other than the city wastewater system shall not be cause for adjustment or reduction of the wastewater service charge. Single-family residences are eligible for a summer sewer base under YMC 7.50.120 and are not required to install a meter to measure water used for irrigation. (Ord. 2006-07 § 14, 2006).

7.50.070 Home kidney dialysis.

A residential customer who undergoes kidney dialysis at his or her home, or whose home is also the home of another person who undergoes home kidney dialysis, shall not be required to pay utility charges for domestic water service or wastewater service for the quantity of water that is necessary for the home dialysis. In order to be excused from utility charges under this section, the residential customer must present to the utility services division written documentation from a recognized kidney dialysis center certifying that the person requires dialysis and the quantity of water needed for that person’s dialysis. (Ord. 2006-07 § 15, 2006).

7.50.080 Utility services charges—When due—Delinquency—Suspension of service—Hearing procedure—Liens.

A.    All charges for water, wastewater, irrigation and/or refuse utilities shall be due and payable at the office of the city treasurer on or before the fourteenth day after the bill therefor is rendered. Utility service charges shall become delinquent if unpaid twenty-one days after the due date. Water service shall be suspended to any premises for which the service charge becomes delinquent, provided no water service shall be suspended until a written notice has been served upon or mailed to the customer, at least seven days prior to suspending service. Such notice shall state the date on which service is to be suspended, the amount of delinquent charges, and that a customer may request, in writing, a hearing before the utility services manager or his/her designee to contest the suspension, provided such request is received by the utility services manager or his/her designee before the suspension date stated in the notice of suspension.

B.    Upon timely receipt of a request for a hearing, the utility services manager or his/her designee shall conduct a hearing, and the customer requesting the hearing shall be notified in writing by the utility services manager or his/her designee of the date, time and place of such hearing. Pending the outcome of such hearing, no service shall be suspended.

C.    The wastewater service charge shall be payable at the office of the city treasurer. It shall be billed with the domestic water bill and shall become payable at the same time as the domestic water bill for the premises becomes payable. Any wastewater service charge which becomes delinquent shall immediately become an unfiled lien upon the premises. The wastewater lien shall be effective for a total not to exceed one year’s delinquent service charges without the necessity of any writing or recording of the lien with the county auditor, as provided in RCW 35.67.215. In order to make such lien effective for more than twelve months’ charges the city shall file a lien notice with the county auditor in substantially the form provided in RCW 35.67.210, and shall foreclose said lien in the manner set forth therein. A lien may be filed with the county auditor’s office when the amount of delinquent wastewater charges meets or exceeds one thousand five hundred dollars. Such lien may be foreclosed as described herein and shall be superior to all other liens and encumbrances except general taxes and local and special assessments, as provided by RCW.

D.    1. All of the charges for garbage and refuse collection shall be billed with and payable at the same time and for the same period as billings and payments are made for other city utility services; or, in the event a customer is served by the municipal refuse division but is not served with any other city utility, garbage and refuse collection charges shall be billed and paid according to the schedule which would be applicable to such customer were he/she so served with another city utility service. Accounts shall become delinquent if not paid within the time specified by subsection A of this section. The city may file a lien for delinquent garbage and refuse charges by filing a notice specifying the delinquent charges, the period covered by the charges and the legal description of the premises sought to be charged with the county auditor, in the form and within the time set forth for liens for labor and material as provided in Chapter 60.04 RCW, et seq. Said liens shall be foreclosed in the manner and within the time prescribed for liens for labor and material, provided in Chapter 60.04 RCW, et seq.

2.    Garbage and refuse collection charges shall be suspended for any customer upon advance notice to the office of the division of utility accounts that a particular premises served will be unoccupied. Such charges shall be resumed upon customer notification to such office to resume service. No such suspension of charges for garbage and refuse collection service shall be made for any premises served with any other city utility unless all city utility service to such premises is likewise suspended. Application for resumption of service to a new customer shall be made to the office of the division of utility accounts on forms provided for that purpose which shall contain the name of the customer and the street address and number of units of the premises to be served.

E.    In the event of a delinquency in the payment of charges for domestic water service to any premises, the city shall have a lien against the premises to which domestic water was furnished for four months’ charges therefor due or to become due, but not for any charges more than four months past due, as provided in RCW 35.21.290. The city shall exercise a lien against such premises by discontinuing water service thereto, and as authorized in RCW 35.21.300. Domestic waters service to a premises shall not be reinstated until all outstanding delinquent charges, unpaid utility service charges and service cut-off charges, as set forth in YMC 7.50.040, have been paid.

F.    In the event the occupation of a premises is by someone other than the customer, the occupant or, in the case of a multiple dwelling, the manager or person in charge of the premises shall be notified, in writing, of the date of suspension of service and the amount of the outstanding delinquency.

G.    The city reserves the right to collect delinquent tenant accounts from the property owner. These delinquent accounts may be sent to a collection agency in the owner’s name. (Ord. 2006-07 § 16, 2006).

7.50.090 Irrigation accounts.

A.    All accounts of property receiving irrigation charges shall be identified in the records of the utility services division by the house and/or street number and under the account number assigned thereto, as well as by the name and address of the owner or of the customer. All bills and notices related to irrigation that are sent out by the utility services division shall be sent to the house and street number of the owner of said property. Any changes in ownership and/or errors in the billing/mailing address shall be promptly reported to the utility services division by the property owner and/or their agent.

B.    Effective January 1, 1998, a bill for each customer shall be generated every two months for irrigation system rates and charges incurred during the preceding two-month period. For purposes of this bimonthly billing, the annual rates and charges set forth in YMC 7.24.100 shall be divided into six equal amounts. If an account is open for less than an entire billing cycle, it shall be billed at the daily rate. The daily rate is calculated by dividing the annual rates and charges set forth in YMC 7.24.100 by three hundred sixty-five. The bill shall be rendered as part of the bill for other utility services rendered by the city, including domestic water, wastewater, and refuse collection. All payments for irrigation system rates and charges shall be due and payable to the office of the treasurer on or before the fourteenth day after the bill therefor is rendered.

C.    All domestic water service and/or irrigation water service may be suspended to any premises for which the irrigation water service charge remains unpaid for a period of twenty-one days after the due date stated on the billing statement; provided, that no domestic water service or irrigation water service shall be suspended until a written notice has been served upon or mailed to the customer, at least seven days prior to suspending service. Such notice shall state the date on which domestic water service and/or irrigation water service is to be suspended, the amount of delinquent charges, and that a customer may request, in writing, a hearing before the utility services manager, or his/her designee, to contest the suspension; provided, that such request is received by the customer service manager or his or her designee before the suspension date stated in the notice of suspension.

D.    Upon timely receipt of a request for a hearing as provided in subsection C of this section, the utility services manager or his or her designee shall conduct a hearing, and the customer requesting the hearing shall be notified in writing by the utility services manager, or his/her designee, of the date, time and place of such hearing. Pending the outcome of such hearing, no domestic water service or irrigation water service to the customer’s premises shall be suspended.

E.    In the event of a delinquency in the payment of charges for irrigation water service to any premises or property, the city may exercise its remedies as described in YMC 7.50.080(E), pursuant to RCW 35.21.290 and 35.21.300, against such premises by discontinuing domestic water service and/or irrigation water service thereto. If domestic water service and/or irrigation water service is suspended as a result of a delinquent utility service account in accord with subsection C of this section, such service shall not be reinstated until all delinquencies and unpaid charges against such premises for irrigation water service have been paid. (Ord. 2009-49 § 4, 2009: Ord. 2006-07 § 17, 2006).

7.50.100 Damage to city property.

It is unlawful for any person to tamper with or break, deface or damage any pipeline, valve, water meter or other waterworks appliance or fixture, or to interfere in any manner with the proper operation of any part of the water system of the city of Yakima. It is unlawful for any person other than those set forth in YMC 7.68.295, except in case of fire upon the premises or required maintenance or testing, to break or disturb any seal placed by the water division, or to open any fire gate, or to use water through any fire service connection, unless a meter is installed thereon. Any person, firm or corporation violating any of the provisions of this subsection shall, upon conviction thereof, be punished by a fine of not more than three hundred dollars or by imprisonment in the city jail for a period not exceeding ninety days, or both such fine and imprisonment. (Ord. 2006-07 § 18, 2006).

7.50.110 Meter access.

A.    A minimum of twelve inches of clearance on each side of the city meter tile must be maintained to allow access to the city water meter.

B.    Private meters for irrigation or other deduction purposes must be located either outside any building, fenced or secured area, or must have a remote readout located in a readily accessible place outside of any building, fenced or secured area. (Ord. 2006-07 § 19, 2006).

7.50.120 Water used for irrigation not to be charged as wastewater.

It is the intent of this chapter that for single-family residential customers, the portion of domestic water used exclusively for irrigation shall not be charged correspondingly for wastewater. Single-family residences are eligible for a summer sewer base and are not required to install a meter to measure water used for irrigation. Upon application, where it can be shown to the satisfaction of the city utility services manager that the water consumption used to determine charges for wastewater is higher during the summer months due to some water being used for irrigation, the wastewater charge for the summer period may be adjusted to reflect based upon the winter months’ water consumption. Commercial, industrial and multifamily customers do not qualify for such an adjustment and must install a meter to measure the amount of water used for irrigation to support a reduction in wastewater charges. Consumers who have installed domestic water service exclusively for irrigation use will not be billed for the wastewater service charge provided for in Chapter 7.60 without regard to date of commencement or termination of service, subject only to the minimum billings provided for in YMC 7.50.010(C). (Ord. 2006-07 § 20, 2006).

7.50.130 Utility liens—Debt recovery.

Utility liens shall be available to the city as a means of recovering delinquent utility charges as specifically permitted and provided by statutes pertaining to each individual utility provided by the city. The city may enforce delinquent utility charges by application of the liens as described in this chapter, and as specifically permitted by the policies of the Yakima city council. The city also reserves the right to seek recovery of delinquent accounts through all means permitted under the law, including but not limited to liens, service terminations, shut-offs and submission of past due accounts to collection, as may be deemed appropriate by the utility services manager and/or as dictated by specific operational guidelines established by the finance department. (Ord. 2006-07 § 21, 2006).

7.50.140 Special circumstances.

The utility services manager, or his/her designee, may waive any provision of this chapter when specific circumstances render enforcement of such provision impractical or when, in his/her sole judgment, unusual circumstances so warrant. Such waiver may be conditioned on such terms as the manager may determine are appropriate. Any person aggrieved by an action of the manager regarding such a waiver may appeal the action to the director of the department of finance and budget. Any person aggrieved by the director’s action regarding such appeal may appeal to the city council. (Ord. 2006-07 § 22, 2006).

7.50.150 Budget billing.

The city of Yakima may offer residential utility customers the option of a budget payment plan. The budget payment plan shall be set forth in a program policy and guidelines document, as adopted or amended from time to time, by the utility services manager, subject to approval by the finance director. (Ord. 2009-49 § 5, 2009).