Utility Services

13.20.010 Property owner or the registered agent is responsible for payment of utility charges.

Pursuant to the enabling authority contained in Chapter 35.92 RCW, a property owner or the registered agent of the property owner shall be responsible for all utility charges. The city shall mail all utility bills to the property owner or registered agent of the property owner, or both if requested. However, the property owner shall be ultimately responsible for payment of the utility bill in accordance with this chapter.

A property owner may delegate his or her authority and responsibility for payment to an agent registered with the city. Said registered agent shall be a resident or business owner with a physical location and address in Yakima County and must provide the city with a limited power of attorney that authorizes the agent to act on the property owner’s behalf with respect to city utility billings and payments. Unless the property owner designates a registered agent, all utility billings, delinquency notices, termination notices, etc., will be sent to the property owner’s address of record with the Yakima County assessor’s office.

As a courtesy to a tenant/lessee, the city will mail notices of delinquency and impending service termination to the service address. (Ord. 1257 §1UU, 2011:  Ord. 1192 §1(part), 2008)

13.20.020 Failure to receive mail not excuse for nonpayment–Registering change of ownership.

Failure to receive mail will not be recognized as a valid excuse for failure to pay bills when due. Change in ownership of property and change in mailing address must be filed with the office of the clerk/treasurer on forms provided by the city for that purpose. It is the responsibility of the property owner to ensure the city has the correct billing address. (Ord. 1257 §1VV, 2011:  Ord. 1192 §1(part), 2008)

13.20.030 Combined utility system.

The city operates and maintains a combined utility, consisting of the water system, sewerage system, garbage collection, and all taxes associated with those functions. (Ord. 1192 §1(part), 2008)

13.20.040 Monthly billings and rates.

The rates are to be billed monthly by the city for the services rendered by the city or by its garbage collection contractor. Elderly and disabled discounted fees are in effect through Chapter 13.16. Fees will be reviewed during the yearly budget process. (Ord. 1257 §1WW, 2011:  Ord. 1192 §1(part), 2008)

13.20.045 Rates set by city council.

Rates for utilities shall be set by resolution by the city council from time to time and the rates will be on file and available in the office of the clerk/treasurer. The city council shall also set fees and penalties for violations of this chapter, failure to make payment, returned checks, and other fees and penalties as the city council finds necessary. (Ord. 1257 §2E, 2011)

13.20.050 Special sewer rate conditions.

A. Irrigation Season Billing. The “average” water consumption for the irrigation season (March through November) for each sewer service shall be based on averaging the “actual” water meter readings from the nonirrigation months (December through February) billing cycles for that meter providing water to the sewer service. If insufficient information is available to determine the actual water consumption at a sewer service for the nonirrigation months (December through February), then the city will process an average at two thousand cubic feet until the next March when the average is recalculated.

B. Beginning and Ending Sewer Bills. All persons beginning utility service from the city will be charged an initial rate for the partial month. The ending month of utility service will be considered a regular billing month and not eligible for the rate for partial month. (Ord. 1257 §1XX, 2011:  Ord. 1192 §1(part), 2008)

13.20.060 Multiple housing units on one water meter.

If multiple housing units are served by a single water meter, then the owner of the property where the housing units are located shall be charged for all water and sewer service which are served by that single meter. The city clerk/treasurer’s office shall be authorized to consolidate the charges for the multiple housing units and services onto a single monthly billing to include all water, sewer, garbage, and all associated tax charges. (Ord. 1192 §1(part), 2008)

13.20.070 Deposit.

All property owners or their registered agents within the city limits will pay a one-hundred-fifty-dollar deposit before the utilities are started, including prior to placement of temporary dumpsters. All property owners or their registered agents outside of the city limits will pay a two-hundred-fifty-dollar deposit before the utilities are started, including prior to placement of temporary dumpsters. If the city is unable to return the deposit at the termination of ownership to the property owner, it will be turned over to the Unclaimed Properties Division of the Washington State Department of Revenue per Chapter 63.29 RCW. The city may not return deposits for properties that are known to be rental properties, regardless of consecutive on-time payments. (Ord. 1257 §1YY, 2011:  Ord. 1206 §1, 2009:  Ord. 1192 §1(part), 2008)

13.20.080 Initial application for utilities.

Upon requesting initial services from the city, the property owner will present to the office of the clerk/treasurer proof of ownership of the property, photo identification, and deposit, and fill out the application. The property owner will be available for staff to turn on their water and sewer, and must be present at the property at the time the water and sewer is turned on to the property. The turning on of utilities will happen on the city of Wapato’s normal business days. Garbage service requests will be faxed to the contractor the day the application is completed. (Ord. 1257 §1ZZ, 2011:  Ord. 1192 §1(part), 2008)

13.20.090 Billing.

All city utilities, water-sewer-garbage, will be billed from the twentieth of one month to the nineteenth of the second month, with the bills sent to the property owners or their registered agents by the last working day of the second month. Copies of billings may also be sent to tenants where appropriate pursuant to this chapter. (Ord. 1257 §1AAA, 2011:  Ord. 1192 §1(part), 2008)

13.20.100 Payment options and payments due.

All utility billing is due and payable on the twentieth of the month at the office of the clerk/treasurer. The bill can be paid by in-person payment, drop box, website, phone, or mail. The ACH, debit card, credit card, or Internet pay is available through the clerk/treasurer’s office. (Ord. 1257 §1BBB, 2011:  Ord. 1192 §1(part), 2008)

13.20.110 Budget payment plan.

The city of Wapato offers to residential customers the option of a budget billing or equal payment plan. The person requesting budget billing must have a one-year history with the city of Wapato for a property owner or registered agent to opt into budget billing, pursuant to RCW 35.21.300. During that one-year history all charges must have been timely paid. The plan will be based on the twelve months’ prior billing. If there is a shortfall, or the actual utility usage was more than charged for the previous twelve-month period, at the end of the twelve-month period, then the shortfall will be charged on the next month’s bill. The budget payment plan will be adjusted yearly and shall be in writing signed by both the city and the property owner. (Ord. 1257 §1CCC, 2011:  Ord. 1192 §1(part), 2008)

13.20.120 Late charges.

In the event that any utility bill is not paid by the due date, a late fee shall be assessed monthly. This fee will be set by fee resolution. (Ord. 1192 §1(part), 2008)

13.20.130 Insufficient payment.

In the event that any property owner or his or her registered agent shall tender as payment of water, sewer, or garbage services an amount insufficient to pay in full any of the charges so billed, credit shall be given in the following priority:

Priority Type
1stFees/Penalties
2ndUtility Tax
3rdGarbage
4thSewer
5thWater

(Ord. 1257 §1DDD, 2011:  Ord. 1192 §1(part), 2008)

13.20.140 Delinquency dates.

The utility bill will be considered delinquent on the twenty-first or the first working day after the twenty-first day of the month. A delinquent notice will be mailed to the property owner or his registered agent. The delinquency notice shall contain at least the following information:

A. The person or persons designated by the city as responsible for hearing complaints regarding disputed bills as utility service arbitrator;

B. The location, phone number, and office hours of the utility arbitrator;

C. The total amount of the utility bill past due, including any penalties; and

D. The date on which the water and sewer service, and which water and service to the premises will be shut off should payment not be made. (Ord. 1257 §1EEE, 2011:  Ord. 1206 §2, 2009:  Ord. 1192 §1(part), 2008)

13.20.160 Delinquent accounts.

If payment is not received by the due date on the delinquency notice, water and sewer service may be terminated by the city and discontinued until all delinquent fees, penalties, rates, or charges for garbage services, sewer services and water service shall have been paid in full, including all fees currently owing. (Ord. 1257 §1FFF, 2011:  Ord. 1192 §1(part), 2008)

13.20.165 Voluntary discontinuance of services.

A. Vacancy Shut-Off.

1. A property owner or registered agent may request voluntary discontinuance of water, sewer, and garbage services during periods that the premises are vacant. Three days’ advanced notice of such discontinuance shall be given to the city in writing, and the property owner or registered agent shall pay the city any delinquent fees or charges, plus a shut-off fee as specified in the fee resolution. Following proper discontinuance, no fees for water, sewer or garbage service shall accrue, and no liens shall accumulate, until the service is reconnected.

2. The property owner or registered agent shall indicate the period for which services shall be discontinued, which time period shall be not less than one calendar month or longer than twelve calendar months in duration. At the end of the requested discontinuance period, base service fees shall be reinstated, without notice to the property owner or registered agent. Liens may then accumulate if payment is not made.

B. Temporary Shut-Off.

1. A property owner or registered agent may request temporary shut-off of water services when it is necessary for performing home maintenance, yard maintenance, or any other reason the owner deems appropriate. For shut-offs and turn-ons scheduled during regular city business hours, owners shall be billed a shut-off charge and turn-on charge as specified in the city’s fee resolution. A higher charge shall apply for expedited shut-off requests and for after-hours shut-offs or turn-ons.

2. No portion of the property owner’s or registered agent’s bill shall be credited as a result of a temporary shut-off.

3. Temporary shut-offs may not be longer than seventy-two business hours. At the end of the seventy-two-hour period, the city shall reconnect water services to the property. (Ord. 1257 §2F, 2011)

13.20.168 Involuntary discontinuance of services.

A. Water service may be discontinued by the city for any of the following reasons:

1. For delinquent and unpaid charges, as specified herein;

2. For the use of water and sewer utilities for purposes or properties other than that specified in the application;

3. For willful waste of water through improper or imperfect piping, equipment or otherwise;

4. When a property owner’s piping or equipment does not meet the city’s standards, or fails to comply with other applicable codes and regulations;

5. For tampering with property of the city utility system;

6. For the use of utility lines in a manner which adversely affects the city’s service to its other customers; and/or

7. For fraudulent or improper obtaining or use of utility service.

B. Except in the case of danger to life or property, fraudulent use, impairment of service, or violation of law, the city shall use its best efforts to resolve the disputed account issue prior to shut off of services. However, this shall not change the process or method of shutting off services due to delinquencies or nonpayment of accounts, which is outlined in Sections 13.20.140 and 13.20.160, and as otherwise outlined in this chapter.

C. Except in case of danger to life or property, no disconnection shall be accomplished on Saturdays, Sundays, legal holidays or any day on which the city cannot reestablish service on the same or following day.

D. Where a service is provided to a master meter, or where the city has reasonable grounds to believe that service is to other than the property owner or property upon which service has been authorized, the city shall undertake all reasonable efforts to inform the occupants of the service address of the impending disconnection. Upon request of one or more service users, where service is to other than the property owner or property upon which service has been authorized, an additional five days shall be allowed prior to shut-off to permit the unauthorized property owner to arrange for continued service, which will require, at a minimum, payment of all delinquent charges. (Ord. 1257 §2G, 2011)

13.20.170 Reconnection fee.

Fees for reconnection of services after accounts are brought current, as well as fees for reconnection after voluntary discontinuance, will be set by resolution of the city council. (Ord. 1257 §1GGG, 2011:  Ord. 1192 §1(part), 2008)

13.20.180 Lien.

All charges for utilities supplied to a premises shall be a lien against the premises and chargeable to the owner or any person having an interest in the premises for the full period permitted by law. (Ord. 1192 §1(part), 2008)

13.20.190 Billing adjustments, leaks, meter error, or meter failure.

A.  Leaks.  Maintenance and repair of water lines from the meter to the dwelling on private property is the responsibility of the property owner, as well as any water services charges due to leaks or breakage.

B.  Meter Error or Failure.  If there is a meter error or failure, the account will be adjusted by the clerk/treasurer’s office with approval of the public works director.

C.  In the case of a leak in the water service pipe, the owner may be entitled to an adjustment of their current water utility bill only, provided the following conditions are met:

1.  Within thirty days of the leak discovered by the owner, or within thirty days of the city notifying the owner of a possible leak, whichever occurs sooner, the owner shall have completed the repair of said leak.  The owner shall submit to the city an invoice or other evidence to show that the leak was repaired within the aforementioned time frame.  An adjustment in the water utility billing shall not be permitted if such excess water consumption is due to a customer’s neglect or failure to timely repair the leak.

2.  Said leak in the water service pipe was not caused by and/or the fault of the owner. 

3.  An adjustment for a water service leak shall only be allowed for the buried water service pipe from the water service setter to the premises.  No adjustment shall be made for leaking plumbing fixtures, leaks or breaks associated with an irrigation system, or any other typically visible leaks. 

4.  The property has not had a previous water bill adjustment due to a water service leak in the previous two years.

5.  Customer’s utility account is current with no past due amounts owed to the city.

6.  Utility service to property is classified as a single-family residence. Commercial, multifamily, and industrial customers are not eligible for a water service leak adjustment to their utility bill.

7.  Single-family residential customers will be eligible for a water service leak adjustment if the total dollar amount of the adjustment is greater than twenty-five dollars, but shall not exceed two hundred fifty dollars.  Adjustments below twenty-five dollars will not be processed by the city.  Adjustments for water service leaks are limited to no more than two hundred fifty dollars.

D. Billing Adjustments. If the utility customer has been underbilled, the clerk/treasurer’s office will bill the amount owing to the appropriate customer. (Ord. 1316 §2, 2017:  Ord. 1192 §1(part), 2008)

13.20.200 Utility customer complaints.

The clerk/treasurer will hear utility customer complaints involving billing disputes. The clerk/treasurer shall review such disputes, when applicable, with the public works director and make such determinations as appropriate. Appeals of the clerk/treasurer’s determinations shall be made in writing to the mayor. Such appeals shall specify the reasons for appeal and shall be filed with the mayor within fifteen days of the determination. The mayor’s determination on appeal may be appealed to the city council. The city council’s determination, after a hearing, shall be final. (Ord. 1257 §1HHH, 2011:  Ord. 1192 §1(part), 2008)

13.20.210 Charge off of uncollectible utility charges.

The city clerk/treasurer, or his or her designee, may charge off any utility charge, penalty, or interest that is owed by a property owner or his or her designated agent, if the clerk/treasurer, or his or her designee, reasonably ascertains that the cost of collecting such amounts would be greater than the total amount that is owed or likely to be collected from the property owner or his or her designated agent. (Ord. 1257 §2G, 2011)

13.16.010 Programs for discounts established.

A program for discounts to the billing for water and sewer utility services for certain low-income senior or disabled citizens is established in order to provide necessary support for the disadvantaged. Such reductions are intended to offset rate increases. The mayor and city clerk/treasurer are authorized and directed to administer said program and in such connection may promulgate administrative regulations to carry out the intent and purpose of the ordinance codified in this chapter. (Ord. 1115 §2(part), 2004)

13.16.020 Low-income senior citizen qualifications.

To implement the program provided for in Section 13.16.010, a low-income senior citizen shall show satisfactory proof that he or she:

A. Is sixty-five years of age or older; and

B. Has a maximum annual household income at or below one hundred twenty-five percent of federal poverty guidelines; and

C. Is a single occupant or the head of a household or the spouse of the head of the household; and

D. Resides in the dwelling unit served by the sewer and water utility. 

Applicants shall verify such information annually and shall provide such other data as is deemed appropriate upon forms prepared and in the manner determined by the city. (Ord. 1257 §1SS, 2011:  Ord. 1115 §2(part), 2004)

13.16.030 Disabled citizen qualifications.

To implement the program provided for in Section 13.16.010, a disabled citizen shall show satisfactory proof that he or she:

A. Is disabled; and

B. Has a maximum annual household income at or below one hundred twenty-five percent of federal poverty guidelines; and

C. Is a single occupant or the head of a household or the spouse of the head of the household; and

D. Resides in the dwelling unit served by the sewer and water utility. 

Applicants shall verify such information annually and shall provide such other data as is deemed appropriate upon forms prepared and in the manner determined by the city. (Ord. 1257 §1TT, 2011:  Ord. 1115 §2(part), 2004)

13.16.040 Definition of disabled persons.

For purposes of this section, the following persons are defined as disabled:

A. A person who has qualified and received permanent special parking privileges under RCW 46.16.381(1)(a) through 46.16.381(1)(g).

B. A blind person as defined in RCW 74.18.020(4).

C. A person who has a developmental disability as defined in RCW 71A.10.020(3).

D. A person who is gravely disabled as a result of a mental disorder as defined in RCW 71.50.020(14).

E. A person who has qualified and receives supplemental Social Security benefits due to disability. (Ord. 1115 §2(part), 2004)

13.16.050 Discount applies to water, sewer and garbage utility services.

Persons qualified by the city as eligible recipients of a low-income senior or disabled citizen discount provided for in this chapter shall be granted a discount against the charge assessed for utility services. (Ord. 1206 §3, 2009:  Ord. 1115 §2(part), 2004)

13.16.060 Discount rate.

The city clerk/treasurer is authorized to discount the total amount of charges made for water and sewer utility services to qualified low-income senior or disabled citizens by twenty-five percent. (Ord. 1115 §2(part), 2004)

13.16.070 Discounts limited to first one hundred twenty-five applicants.

The number of senior citizens and disabled persons, combined, shall not exceed one hundred twenty-five in any calendar year. (Ord. 1115 §2(part), 2004)