PIERCETON — Discussion got heated at Pierceton’s Town Council meeting when the previously tabled water ordinance was again brought forward for discussion.
The ordinance puts the responsibility of water service payments on to property owners rather than tenants. It was brought forward after the council came to realize they were losing money on failed payments. The new ordinance would not affect tenants currently responsible for water services and would only affect newly leased tenants.
The issue has been a topic of debate. “We need to get this over with,” stated council member Mandy Espinoza.
Initially President Tom Barker was not going to open the floor for discussion, as the ordinance has been discussed at the last two meetings. Present landlords would not let the issue slide.
“You need to do your research!” exclaimed Brad Bailey. Brad and Anna Bailey were present at previous meetings to bring forth their concerns, mostly that it did not appear that the council understood all the legalities of owning property and dealing with tenants.
The most raised concern is landlords cannot legally turn off a tenant’s water if they fail to pay. “You cannot turn it off without a legal action,” Doug Walls, landlord and former council member, informed the council.
The council had stated previously that if tenants failed to pay the property owners for their water, the landlord could just go in and turn off the water. Both Walls and the Baileys had looked into the matter and both parties had been advised that legally they could not shut off a tenant’s water.
Anna stated later that she feels she is being “bullied” with this new ordinance. “[With this ordinance] if a tenant gets mad they can turn on every faucet and leave and the only thing we can do is pay the water bill. We can’t turn the water off, but the city can.”
It was brought forward by present landlords that they wanted the option to put in curbside shut off valves in lieu of the ordinance. This would allow the city to shut off water if the bill is not paid.
Former clerk-treasurer Janet Castle advised that the issue is not new. “We’ve been looking into this for four or five years. It always appeared to me that it would benefit landlords.”
While the council was unfazed by the concerns, Brad Bailey then asked if bills for sewer, trash and water would be separated. The council failed to understand the question but it was soon realized that currently the services are combined on a singular bill. It was determined that because this was not yet decided the ordinance would once again be tabled.
- Council approved a 10-year tax abatement for Midwest Roll Forming.
- There is a drainage issue being resolved between Wayne and Columbia Streets.
- Trick or treating will be from 6-7:30 p.m. on Oct. 31.
- Leaf pickup will begin Oct. 24 and run through Thanksgiving.
- Fire Prevention Open House is Friday, Oct. 14.