Utility deposits, speed hump addressed at work session

By Pat Sunderland


After meeting with the owners of rental properties in Delta, the city council has decided against reinstating a $75 utility deposit for new customers.

City staff cited the "administrative burden" of collecting, tracking and refunding the deposit. The deposit is of no benefit to the city, because it eventually collects 100 percent of outstanding utility bills -- if necessary, through a lien on the property.

In the case of rental units, the landlord generally avoids that scenario by paying outstanding fees incurred by tenants. Some felt the $75 deposit would help cushion the blow; the city says they could charge a utility deposit themselves, along with the damage deposit, pet deposit or other fees they collect from new tenants.

During previous discussion, landlords complained about tenants who run up a utility bill, move into another property in the city, open a new account and start the process all over. As a municipal monopoly, the City of Delta says it can not refuse service to anyone, but it will, upon written request, provide utility billing information to property owners. If a prospective tenant has racked up utility bills at other properties, the property owner will be forewarned There is no charge for this service.

During a work session Feb. 21, council also discussed a request to remove the speed hump from 7th Street. The speed hump was installed during a million-dollar widening/improvement project that took place in 2002.

Steve Glammeyer, utilities/public works director, said a number of complaints were voiced right after the project was completed, but since then the city has heard very few complaints.

Because the speed hump is made of concrete, it can not be ground down. It would have to be completely removed (estimated cost of $3,000) or removed and replaced ($8,000 to $10,000).

Council members did not want to completely remove the speed hump and create a long speedway. Without a clear vision of a replacement, they decided to leave it as is.

The work session wrapped up with a demonstration of Zonar, fleet management technology that provides GPS tracking and electronic vehicle inspections. Glammeyer said 67 of the city's vehicles and pieces of equipment, from police cars to street sweepers, are equipped with GPS tracking. Glammeyer said the technology has resulted in more efficient, effective use of staff time and equipment, saving taxpayer dollars.

In the future, he said Zonar could be of use to the public, by indicating the location of crews during the annual fall cleanup, or tracking snow removal on specific routes on the city website.