By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
1,800 cut-off notices a month
Deadbeat renters try to sham city with switcheroo
Placeholder Image
A year ago the City of Manteca would issue 1,000 final notices to cut off water service for non-payment of municipal utility bills. Of those, 200 actually ended up with service turned off.

Today there are 1,800 final notices mailed each month. City workers end up turning water service off to 400 homes in any given month.

Finance Director Suzanne Mallory told the City Council Tuesday that the current delinquency rate of 5.10 percent is costing the city’s water, sewer, and solid waste accounts $149,350.16 a year. That is up from $87,945.99 from the previous year. And with unemployment at 14 percent in Manteca coupled with the continuing foreclosure mess, Mallory is predicting next year that the delinquency rate could hit 10 percent and cost ratepayers who pay on time as much as $300,000 since they ultimately will have to absorb the losses Manteca is forced to write off.

Mallory said the city will work with struggling households to avoid water shut-off whenever possible.

Manteca is also making it more difficult for deadbeat renters to run up a water bill, not pay it, and then open a new service under the name of someone else that is living in the house.

The city is now requiring a renter’s agreement when water servcie is opened. That means to open a service, you must have a copy of the rental agreement. That will make it harder to simply shift the account into someone else’s name after it goes delinquent for several months unless a new rental agreement has been signed.

The increased delinquencies have created extremely long lines at the Civic Center Finance Department office that was first built over a quarter of a century ago. On the absolutely last day each month to pay on delinquent bills to avoid a shut off of water service  lines often snake outside the Finance Department and down the sidewalk to the parking lot.

The lobby in the Finance Department has just three service windows and room for only two to three other people waiting in line.

That will change after the Manteca City Council Tuesday approved spending $53,476 to expand the counter to five customer service windows and to expand the lobby to accommodate more customers in line.

The remodel also will allow for the replacement of more efficient work stations to enhance the efficiency of Finance Department workers.

The money was included in last year’s fiscal budget. It was set aside from sewer, water, and solid waste budgets. That money is paid for by ratepayers and can only be used for utility-related functions including the billing and collection of money for services rendered.

The money was carried over from the last fiscal year and was already built into the cost of operating the system.

The new counter and work stations will be purchased from Warden’s.