May 10, 2002 Mrs. Jean Hayton, City Recorder City of Lake City

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May 10, 2002
Mrs. Jean Hayton, City Recorder
City of Lake City
195 South Main Street, P.O. Box 66
Lake City, Tennessee 37769
Re: Wastewater Service Disconnect Policy
Dear Mrs. Hayton
The purpose of this letter is to outline a strategy for disconnecting wastewater service as the
result of non payment of wastewater fees.
I have reviewed the problem of disconnecting wastewater service for non payment of fees with
legal counsel and would like to point out that any strategy that you may choose may involve
some level of risk. You and the board may be negatively criticized for disconnecting an
individual=s wastewater service where there are children or elderly people involved or some
other hardship. Someone may legally challenge your action to disconnect the service or you
may be sued for the action.
We did not find any legal opinions that would specifically authorize you to disconnect the service
for non payment, nor did we find any opinions that require you to continue to provide the service
free of charge. We think that if you give reasonable notice for the disconnection of service your
city will be in a better position if challenged.
One strategy that you may want to consider is giving the customer refusing to pay the monthly
wastewater fee a ninety (90) days notice that states that the fees have not been paid and service
will be discontinued at the end of ninety (90) days unless they are paid. The notice can state
that the customer may request a hearing before the board if there is some legitimate reason why
the fee should not be paid. If the customer refuses to pay or does not pay, he should make
other provisions for wastewater disposal. Send a copy of the notice to the county health officer
and the county executive. If the fees remain unpaid disconnect the service. It is important that
you treat every customer who does not pay the same way, that the amount of the fees unpaid
not be in dispute, and that you not let the unpaid wastewater fees remain unpaid for long
periods of time before taking action.
I recommend that you review any strategy for disconnecting wastewater with your city attorney
prior to any disconnection.
Please let me know if you have questions or comments.
Sincerely
Ron Darden
Municipal Management Consultant
Cc. Mrs. Melissa Ashburn, Legal Consultant
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