City of Fairfax, MN
Renville County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Fairfax 9-7-1993; amended 12-2-2003. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
A. 
Deposits:
(1) 
Application for utility service shall be made to the City Clerk-Treasurer. All accounts carried in the name of the property owner shall be liable for utilities supplied to the property and any charges unpaid shall be certified to the County Auditor for collection with taxes.
(2) 
The following deposits are required by residences that are not owner-occupied. The tenant that leases the property is required to pay the following deposits:
(a) 
Fairfax tenant: $300 electric, water and gas.
(b) 
Fairfax tenant: $150 if tenant is only responsible for electric.
(c) 
Gibbon tenant: $150.
(3) 
These deposits must be made prior to moving into residences. At the time of filing for application for utility service the tenant must provide a referral letter disclosing credit information from last utility company. If credit reference is poor or no credit reference is available, the City Clerk-Treasurer shall be authorized to double deposit. One-half of the deposit may be refunded after 12 consecutive months of prompt payment.
(4) 
All deposits are refunded upon termination of service with all bills paid.
B. 
Guarantees:
(1) 
In cases where the owner requests the connection of the premises to the utilities, the obligation rests on the owner for all unpaid charges. It permits placing the obligation for all utility services upon the owner and provides for collection of unpaid bills with taxes.
(2) 
It is the responsibility of the landlord to inform the tenants of the required meter deposit and make sure the tenants pay deposit before taking residency.
(3) 
It is the responsibility of the landlord to inform the City Clerk-Treasurer of tenants moving out. Failure to inform Clerk-Treasurer results in assuming responsibility for any unpaid charges.
A. 
Electric. The City shall furnish all secondary or service wiring and upon receiving a connection certificate from the electrician, the City shall connect the service to the transformer upon receipt of a $150 connection fee. In cases of new construction, all services shall be underground.
B. 
Water. No connection shall be made to the City water system without a permit received from the Clerk-Treasurer. The fee for each such permit shall be $400 for a water main connection permit. The Superintendent of Utilities shall inspect the water connection of the service pipe to the main.
C. 
Sewer. No connection shall be made to the City sanitary sewer system without a permit received from the Clerk-Treasurer. The fee for each such permit shall be $75. The Superintendent of Utilities shall inspect the sanitary sewer service pipe to the main.
D. 
Natural gas. No connection shall be made to the City natural gas system without a permit received from the Clerk-Treasurer. The fee for each such permit shall be $300. The Superintendent of Utilities shall inspect the gas connection of the service pipe to the main. Inspection and pressure test must be performed prior to unlocking the meter for service. The City will furnish the meter and the pipe from the main to the boulevard. The property owner shall be responsible for the cost and installation of the pipe from the boulevard to the building. Installation of gas service must be contracted through the City and installed by a certified contractor.
A. 
Should it be necessary to set a pole on private ground to carry wires, permission having first been attained from the owner, the Superintendent or designer, shall have the right to go on and over said premise for the purpose of stringing wires, making repairs or removing such wires, poles on other property.
B. 
The City shall obtain a utility easement in cases where utilities; electric, water, storm sewer, and sanitary sewer, are installed across private property. The easement shall allow City access on property for repairs and maintenance of lines.
A. 
Electric meters.
(1) 
Electric meters and sockets shall be furnished by the City. The City shall read the electric meters on or about the 30th of each month and on notice of final reading dates. The meters shall be the property of the City and may be removed or replaced as deemed necessary. All meters shall be kept closed with a seal, and such seal shall not be broken except by the Superintendent or under his direction.
(2) 
A utility customer who desires to install underground service where overhead exists shall pay the difference of cost between the overhead and underground wire. In the event additional wire is required due to remodeling projects, the property owner shall be responsible for the entire cost of the wire. In all cases the property owner is responsible for the trenching costs and electrician fees.
B. 
Water meters.
(1) 
Water meters shall be the property of the City and may be removed or replaced as deemed necessary. Water meters shall be read the first week in April, the first week in October and on notice of final reading dates. Authorized meter readers shall have free access to every building during reasonable hours of the day to read meters.
(2) 
The property owner shall be responsible for maintaining the service pipe from the curb box into the building served. If he/she fails to repair any leak in such service pipe within 24 hours after notice by the City, the City may turn the water off.
C. 
Gas meters. Gas meters shall be the property of the City and may be removed or replaced as deemed necessary. Gas meters shall be read on or about the 30th of each month and on notice of final reading dates. Authorized meter readers shall have free access to every building during reasonable hours of the day to read meters.
Any person who deliberately commits, authorizes, attempts, solicits, aids, or abets meter bypassing, tampering, unauthorized connection or unauthorized metering that results in damages to the utility; or against a person who knowingly receives the service as a result of these specific activities; the specific remedy provides that the utility can recover double the costs of the service provided, plus the costs and expenses of investigation and related services, reconnections or disconnections by its employees, plus the trial costs and witness fees.
A. 
Statement for utility charge shall be mailed to each customer on the fifth day of each month. All utility bills shall be due and payable on the 20th of the month for which the bill is dated, and shall be paid to the City of Fairfax, and if such bill is not paid before the 20th day of the month for which the bill is dated, then it shall be the duty of the Clerk-Treasurer to notify the customer of disconnection and the right to a hearing before the Council.
B. 
It shall be the right of the City to bill consumption of electric or water usage based on an estimate if the meter has stopped or can not be read. The estimate will be based on an average consumption of the service for the two previous billings.
Utility customers have the opportunity to sign up for budget billing plan at any time. Budget billing monthly payment is determined by averaging the previous 12 months or if billings number less than 12 the average will be taken from the number of billings to date. If budget billing amount is not commensurate with the consumption due to changes at residence, the City Clerk-Treasurer will review account with customer and revise budget amount.
A. 
The garbage collection charge for residential accounts shall be based on single and family households. The rate will be set by Council resolution. The garbage collection fee shall be terminated upon six months of the household being vacant. This policy excludes residents that are gone for the winter months.
B. 
The garbage collection for commercial accounts will be billed by the contractor.
Utility rates shall be as set by resolution by the City Council.
A. 
Penalties.
(1) 
Statements for utility charges shall be mailed to each customer on the first of the month and final billing dates. If payment is not made by the due date there shall be added a 10% penalty on the delinquent balance.
(2) 
Penalties will not be applied to accounts with payment plans that are current or if forgiveness of penalty is approved by the City Clerk-Treasurer.
B. 
Disconnections. Disconnection of utility service shall occur when an account is 10 days past due. The billing statement will include a notice of disconnection stating if the bill is not paid by the 20th of the month the service is subject to and will be disconnected on 10 days' written notice unless arrangements are made to continue service. The ten-day notice will allow the customer to pay account up in full or set up an acceptable payment plan approved by the City Clerk-Treasurer. The Clerk-Treasurer shall not disconnect if the customer disputes the bill and desires a hearing before the Council. If payment is not received or an acceptable payment plan is not set up or no hearing is desired, the Clerk-Treasurer shall notify the Superintendent of Utilities whose duty it shall be to disconnect.
Annual notice to all residential customers. The cold weather rule must be made to all residential customers of the utility between August 15 and October 15 of each year. The purpose of this notice is to comply with the Minnesota cold weather rule adopted by the state Legislature in 1991 (Attachment A[1]).
A. 
City of Fairfax will not disconnect the utility service of a residential customer if the disconnection affects the primary heat source for the residential unit when the following conditions are met:
(1) 
The disconnection would occur during the period between October 15 and April 15.
(2) 
The customer is receiving any form of public assistance or energy assistance.
(3) 
The customer has declared inability to pay on forms provided by the utility.
(4) 
The household income of the customer is less than 50% of the state median income level, as documented by the customer to the utility. To determine eligibility under income guidelines, customer must present to the utility office:
(a) 
The most recent income tax return filed by members of the customer's household;
(b) 
For each employed member of the customer's household, either paycheck stubs for the last two months or a written statement from the employer of wages earned during the preceding two months;
(c) 
Documentation of unemployment; or
(d) 
Other documentation which supports the customer's declaration of inability to pay; and
(5) 
The customer's account is current for the billing period immediately prior to October 15 or the customer has entered into a payment schedule and is reasonably current with payments under the schedule.
The City of Fairfax will notify all residential customers of the provision of the above five points.
B. 
Before disconnecting service to a residential customer during the period between October 15 and April 15, the City of Fairfax will provide the following information to a customer:
(1) 
A notice of proposed disconnection;
(2) 
A statement explaining the customer's rights and responsibilities (Attachment B[2]);
[2]
Editor's Note: Attachment B is located at the end of this chapter.
(3) 
A list of local energy assistance providers;
(4) 
A form on which to declare inability to pay (Attachment C[3]); and
[3]
Editor's Note: Attachment C is located at the end of this chapter.
(5) 
A statement explaining available time payment plans and other opportunities to secure continued utility service.
C. 
Restrictions if disconnection is necessary.
(1) 
If a residential customer must be involuntarily disconnected between October 15 and April 15 for failure to comply with the provisions of Subsection A, the disconnection must not occur on a Friday or on the day before a holiday. Further, the disconnection must not occur until at least 10 days after the notice has been mailed to the customer.
(2) 
If the customer does not respond to a disconnection notice the customer must not be disconnected until the utility investigates whether the residential unit is actually occupied. If the unit is found to be occupied, the utility must immediately inform the occupant of the provisions of this section. If the unit is unoccupied, the utility must give seven days written notice of the proposed disconnection to the local energy assistance provider before making a disconnection.
(3) 
If prior to the disconnection a customer appeals a notice of involuntary disconnection as provided by the City of Fairfax established appeal procedure, the utility must not disconnect until the appeal is resolved.
D. 
Appeals.
(1) 
A customer who disputes the utility's intention to disconnect cannot be disconnected until the utility hears the customers appeal. If the customer desires such a hearing, the hearing will be scheduled for the next regular Council meeting of the City Council.
(2) 
Upon the finding by the City Council that a customer has established his or her inability to pay, the City Council may require the customer to enter into a payment agreement. A customer failing to comply with the payment agreement may upon 10 days notice by the City be subject to the provisions of utility service disconnect policy.
E. 
Inspections. Authorized personnel shall have free access at reasonable hours of the day to all parts of every building and premises connected with the City water and sanitary sewer service.
F. 
Reconnection. The utility shall reinstate service upon payment of delinquent bill or partial payment with acceptable payment plan plus a reconnection charge of $25. If service is reinstated after regular business hours, the fee will be $50. In cases where utility service is disconnected for a period of time upon request, there shall be a reconnection charge of $25.
G. 
Work orders. Any discharge of water prohibited by Chapter 253, Water and Sewers, Art. I, shall be corrected by the property owner. The City shall cost share based on Chapter 253, Water and Sewers, Art. I, on corrections when the owner has obtained prior approval of the nature of work and the Superintendent of Utilities has issued a work order.
H. 
Provision for collection with taxes. Delinquent utility accounts may be certified to the County Auditor. The City Clerk-Treasurer shall prepare an assessment roll each year providing for assessment of the delinquent amounts against the respective properties served. The assessments shall be submitted to the City Council and approved. Upon such approval, the Clerk-Treasurer shall certify the assessment roll to the County Auditor for collection along with taxes.
[1]
Editor's Note: Attachment A is located at the end of this chapter.