Those looking to move to the City of Albion will now face a steep water deposit cost, thanks to several renters who have dodged their bills within the city limits.

The Albion City Council elected to raise the deposit from $75 to $250 during their December regular session Monday night, also voting to raise the cost of having one’s water turned back on from $25 to $50. A residence that has seen its water shut off will also not have it turned back on until any outstanding bills are paid in full, even if the person who has placed the utility under their name no longer resides at the location, leaving the cost, minus the deposit, to local landlords to pay.

The measures were taken by the council in response to a string of unpaid water bills for up to several hundred dollars left in arrears without a means for the city to collect.

Those water customers that have not paid their bills by the 25th of the following month will receive a shut-off notice, with the city turning off their water the following day. An exception to this rule will be made on months where the 25th lands on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, with shut-off taking place the following Monday under that circumstance.

Another part of the policy, presented by Water Committee member Don Rigg, is that a courtesy call will be made to residents who fail to pay their bill by the tenth day of a given month, with the call being made on the 11th.

One city official expressed concern over City Hall’s ability to enact this portion of the policy.

“Are you staffed well enough to be able to make calls like that?” asked Sydney Graceyalny, City Treasurer. “I’m just throwing that out there.

“I think that’s a problem with calling at the end of each month.”

Rigg explained that the policy itself is the same as it was previously, only with raised rates and a more staunch approach to the issue.

“It’s mainly the same as it was,” he noted. “We just raised the deposit and (the cost) to turn it back on.

“And when we shut it off, we shut it off instead of going and turning it back on before it’s paid.”

Water Committee member Quentin Speir explained that another problem with unpaid water bills in the past has been other members of the household putting the utility in their name in order to get the water turned back on without paying the balance. This necessitates ensuring the bill is paid before turning the water back on, even if the utility is placed under a new person’s name, the city argued.

See the rest of the story in this week's Navigator.