Rental utility deposits may end
November 5, 2012
ZELIENOPLE — The borough is considering eliminating utility deposits for renters when signing up for a utility account in water and electric services. However, landlords would be utility account co-signers with their renters and responsible for any delinquent utility bills not paid by their tenants under a newly proposed ordinance. A special public meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday in the council chamber to discuss the proposed ordinance. Borough manager Don Pepe said the current deposit for utility deposits is $10 for both electric and water service, which is a far lower fee than what surrounding communities charge. Pepe explained borough officials first looked at increasing the deposits, but decided to propose a draft ordinance, which is patterned after a similar ordinance in place in Grove City. Grove City officials have told borough officials the ordinance has had very positive results, he said. “In this proposal, the property owner becomes the co-applicant and is responsible if the renter doesn’t pay,” said Pepe. The borough sent out letters to 43 of the borough’s largest renters/property owners/landlords to attend the public forum to get their thoughts and input on the ordinance. “We’re not holding this meeting because we have to, but the borough council wants to get input,” Pepe said. The borough estimates it has lost about $185,000 in revenues during the past decade on renters who have skipped out on paying their utility bills and forfeiting their deposits rather than pay the past due bills. Pepe said although the amount is not an overly huge amount, with the borough now paying for its water supply from the Beaver Falls Authority, the revenue loss could grow. A copy of the proposed ordinance is available for viewing on the borough’s website, www.zelieboro.org.