City utility deposits might rise

Feb. 23, 2013 @ 06:37 PM

A question of raising the required security deposits for utility customers is on the agenda for discussion by the Henderson City Council on Monday.

City Manager Ray Griffin said that regular business also includes an important step for city leaders in their quest for grant funding of infrastructure upgrades that are needed for keeping utility services up to date.

The council is scheduled to receive data on security deposit levels matched with typical losses to the city for unpaid utility use.

Griffin said the increase in deposit amounts is needed to lessen the loss to city funding that inevitably becomes borne by other customers, the ones who pay.

Because of difficulties implementing new billing policies last year, the council cut security deposit requirements in half from what had been originally proposed: in-city customers pay $75 and out-of-city customers pay $100 for residential accounts.

Having security deposits on account has improved things, Griffin said, but an increase to the deposit in the direction of original recommendations is in order given the continued loss factor.

“We are realizing that our security deposits are not covering the potential loss,” Griffin said. “They are not covering even one full month for services.”

For instance, an account might lose up to two months of usage service that is not paid, but the deposit covers approximately half a month’s usage on some occasions.

“There will be some controversy surrounding this,” Griffin said, adding that the Monday report will not include action by the council.

The report and discussion will be taken under advisement and the issue added to a future council session for a decision.

Council members are scheduled to vote on a slate of resolutions and an ordinance to establish a capital improvement plan project budget as a step toward pursuing an aggressive agenda for water and sewer infrastructure upgrades.

Discussed earlier in the month were the three projects that would hinge on winning grant funding helps in the upcoming round of grant awards.

• A Beckford Drive water main loop would bring water main service closer to where there has been some recent development. There is only one feed from Dabney Drive to the intersection of North Park Drive.

It would entail construction of about 3,000 linear feet of 8-inch line, with an estimated cost total of about $180,000.

• A water main project would extend 10,600 linear feet along U.S. 158 Business from Ruin Creek to Poplar Creek roads, and would become a second feed to Triangle North Industrial Park and Vance-Granville Community College.

The cost for that project is estimated at $614,800.

• The Elmwood Cemetery sewer main replacement project would provide a mitigation system to augment completion of the Sandy Creek pump station, a project now in the design phase.

Two alternatives considered by city staff for the sewer collection system include upsizing nearly 5,000 feet of pipes at an estimated $1.9 million total cost or increasing slopes using existing pipe, at an $856,000 estimated cost.

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.