A Toledo councilman on Thursday blasted the Bell administration for imposing a $200 deposit on all new water accounts and for pushing through the expense on new homeowners without warning.
“First, this councilman was never notified that there was an increase in this fee,” Councilman Rob Ludeman, who is a Realtor, wrote in an email to Mayor Mike Bell and some of the mayor’s top officials.
“The real estate industry was never notified … I am not sure why there was no transparency in this move, but I will be asking Council President Joe McNamara to hold a public hearing just as we do on all fee increases,” he said. “Having endured the housing crisis first hand the last five years and finally seeing the ‘light at the end of the tunnel,’ this is not the time to make home ownership, especially in the city of Toledo, more costly and difficult.”
Dave Welch, Department of Public Utilities director, told The Blade on Wednesday the $200 deposit was required only from customers wanting water service before Oct. 1, 2012, but it now is required from everyone.
Mr. Welch said the $200 is credited toward a customer’s final bill when service is terminated.
Mr. Ludeman and Councilman D. Michael Collins found that unpalatable.
Both councilmen said the deposit should be refunded after a period of time the customer has stayed current on the bill. They both acknowledged homeowners who decide to stay in the same house for decades will never recoup the fee.
“So it’s basically a fee,” Mr. Collins said.
The deposit was expanded in part because the city’s water and sewer systems need big repairs. It is meant to alleviate delinquencies, which the city aggressively has sought to curtail by legally pursuing people who are behind in their bills and even prosecuting those who steal water after a shutoff.
Under the city policy, someone buying a multiunit building with multiple water meters must pay the $200 deposit for each unit.
Council President Joe McNamara scheduled a hearing on the topic for 4 p.m. Feb. 4.
Contact Ignazio Messina at:firstname.lastname@example.org 419-724-6171.