February 10, 2021 (Moscow, Idaho) — The City of Moscow is proposing a change in its current process for establishing utility billing accounts and processing payments. The proposal's basis is the City’s current process allows tenants to establish utility billing accounts on the behalf of the owner rather than requiring the property owner to establish the tenants account directly.
This proposed change is not taken lightly. After an in-depth review of the current process, it was determined that an average of $10,250 is realized in unpaid utility bills by tenants each year. In addition, the additional staff time taken to manage this process is estimated at $31,000 per year. This loss of more than $40,000 is borne by all utility customers, including owner-occupied and non-owner-occupied properties.
Moscow City Code (5-4-4) provides the basis for requiring property owners to be responsible for utility bills. Additional review was given to this concept in a 1989 Idaho Supreme Court Case, City of Grangeville v. Haskin, requiring a contractual arrangement to complement the ordinance's intent. With the City's implementation of new financial software, the timing works well to implement this change. All customers who use the online billing option will need to reregister their account, providing owners an opportunity to register for service rather than tenants. This timing also offers an opportunity for the proposed contract to be executed by all utility bill payers. Additional information on the proposed changes and contractual requirements can be found at www.ci.moscow.id.us
under City of Moscow News.
This process will only change with approval from the City Council.
The Council will be discussing the proposal at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, February 16 at 7 p.m. Your input would be greatly appreciated at that meeting or in advance of that meeting. If you'd like to share feedback on the proposal, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
to share your input.
Questions? Contact Finance Director Sarah L. Banks at 208-883-7016 directly or by email at email@example.com
Story Contact: Gary Riedner, City Supervisor