Humboldt Council addresses delinquent water bills in city


HUMBOLDT – Dealing with delinquent water bills was discussed by the Humboldt City Council Monday.

The city is running into a problem collecting past due payments from tenants in some apartment complexes.

“We have had some landlords that have decided to waive the ability for the city to put a lien on their property if the tenant does not pay the water bill,” City Administrator Aaron Burnett said.

If a landlord waives the right for the lien, the city has the right to charge the delinquent tenant as much as triple the amount of the water bill, Burnett said.

According to Burnett, the vast majority of the city’s bad debt comes from situations where the city is not notified when someone moves.

If the city penalizes the landowner, the cost would only be passed onto the tenants who have been paying, Burnett said.

The city has two options: increase the deposit for tenants in complexes where the landowners have waived the lien or go to the state to garnish the tax returns or gambling winnings of tenants who are delinquent on their bills, Burnett said.

In other business, the council discussed options for the Sumner Avenue sidewalk project.

Moving the sidewalk behind a retaining wall would be about $207,000 – $70,000 less than erecting a new barrier and offering greater protection from traffic, according to Burnett.

Derek Johnson of Schlotfeldt Engineering Inc., Webster City, has been advising the city on the sidewalk.

However, Johnson will be moving and Schlotfeldt will hire someone new, Burnett said.

Burnett said he has concerns about how available Schlotfeldt will be during the transition period and he suggested turning the project over to the I&S Group of Mankato, Minn., which is working with the city on other projects. The board gave its support to the switch.