City Council tosses out unused water bill procedure

Published 9:53 am Friday, January 27, 2012

Residents who fail to pay their water bills no longer will receive a special hearing, but they weren’t using the procedure anyway.

The Albert Lea City Council on Monday approved deleting part of an ordinance that had required the city to let delinquent bill payers have a hearing before their water is shut off.

The meeting agenda states: “This procedure has not been used over the past several years, and while permissible under the law, is an additional hurdle and procedure which complicates water shutoffs by staff.”

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The ordinance had called on the city to mail a notice with the name and phone number of the city staff member who was assigned the complaint. The delinquent bill payer at that time could request a hearing and attempt to prove that the account was paid in full.

Customers of the city’s water service still will receive due notice if they fall behind on payments of pending shutoffs. Complaints still can be handled by calling or stopping at City Hall, the manner by which most people dealt with water issues.

The amended water ordinance will return to the council for a second reading.

In other action, the City Council:

• Approved the second reading of an ordinance that revises the city policy on special events. The ordinance requires any person or group holding a special event on city property or using city services to obtain a special event permit.

The policy also calls for a user fee for some events — for administrative work, other employee time or equipment usage.

• Approved the Edgewater Park as the location for the annual Big Freeze, along with use of the Edgewater Bay Pavilion.

“The committee estimates that 600 to 800 people will attend the 2012 Big Freeze,” the agenda states.

• Gave a first reading to an amendment of the city zoning ordinance regarding signs. The amendment would allow 32-square-foot wall signs in professional offices, clinics, clubs and other non-residential places in the “R-3 multi-family district.” The prior ordinance allowed 20-square-foot signs.

About Tim Engstrom

Tim Engstrom is the editor of the Albert Lea Tribune. He resides in Albert Lea with his wife, two sons and dog.

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