Miami-Dade Legislative Item
File Number: 112485
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File Number: 112485 File Type: Ordinance Status: Second Reading
Version: 0 Reference: Control: Board of County Commissioners
File Name: WASA DIRECTOR TO GRANT ONE-TIME LIFETIME BILLING ADJUSTMENT Introduced: 11/28/2011
Requester: NONE Cost: Final Action:
Agenda Date: 12/6/2011 Agenda Item Number: 7D
Notes: SEE 112619 FOR FINAL VERSION AS ADOPTED. Title: ORDINANCE CREATING SECTION 32-101; GRANTING DISCRETION TO THE DIRECTOR OF THE MIAMI-DADE WATER AND SEWER DEPARTMENT TO ISSUE A ONE-TIME LIFETIME BILLING ADJUSTMENT TO CUSTOMERS WHERE THERE ARE EXTREME CIRCUMSTANCES THAT MERIT AN ADJUSTMENT; PROVIDING SEVERABILITY, INCLUSION IN THE CODE, AND AN EFFECTIVE DATE (SEE ORIGINAL ITEM UNDER FILE NO. 111733)
Indexes: WATER AND SEWER
  WATER METER
Sponsors: Jose "Pepe" Diaz, Co-Prime Sponsor
  Lynda Bell, Co-Prime Sponsor
Sunset Provision: No Effective Date: Expiration Date:
Registered Lobbyist: None Listed


Legislative History

Acting Body Date Agenda Item Action Sent To Due Date Returned Pass/Fail

Board of County Commissioners 12/6/2011 7D Amended
REPORT: (See Agenda Item 7D Amended; Legislative File No. 112619 for the amended version.)

County Attorney 11/28/2011 Assigned Sarah E. Davis

Infrastructure and Land Use Committee 11/9/2011 1E1 AMENDED Forwarded to BCC with a favorable recommendation with committee amendment(s) P
REPORT: Assistant County Attorney Geri Bonzon-Keenan read the title of the foregoing proposed ordinance into the record. Chairwoman Edmonson opened the public hearing for persons wishing to speak in connection with this ordinance. She closed the public hearing after no one appeared wishing to speak. Assistant County Attorney Geri Bonzon-Keenan noted the sponsor of this ordinance wished to offer a proposed amendment. Assistant County Attorney Sara Davis noted Commissioner Diaz as the sponsor of this proposed ordinance, asked that it be amended to add language at the end of paragraph (1) of section 32-101 on handwritten page 5 to read as follows: “If awarded, similar to the credit provided in the Department’s Rules 2.10(1)(e) and 3.10(1)(e), such credit will be a 50% credit to the water portion of the customer’s high bill above the customer’s last yearly average consumption, and a 100% credit to the sewer portion of the high bill, above the customer’s last yearly average consumption.” Commissioner Diaz noted the proposed amendment included standard language used by the department to maintain uniformity in the adjustment of water bills. Commissioner Sosa expressed concern that the proposed amendment to Section 32-101 of the Code would give the Water and Sewer Department Director sole discretion to make these billing adjustments. She offered a friendly amendment to require that when adjustments were made, the Director be instructed to submit them to the Mayor in the form of a written report, with copies to members of the County Commission. Ms. Davis noted she believed that part of Commissioner Sosa’s proposed amendment was already included in Section 32-101 (4) of this proposed ordinance on handwritten page 6. Commissioner Sosa noted the existing language instructs the Director to report on an annual basis; however, she was requesting that the Director report, in writing, on a monthly basis. Commissioner Diaz noted he had no problem with mandating that the Director report on an annual basis, but not monthly, noting the Water and Sewer Department Director should be given the same discretion as other Department Directors. He also noted he did not want to usurp the Mayor’s authority. Commissioner Diaz suggested the Administration establish an internal policy requiring the Director to submit monthly reports to satisfy Commissioner Sosa’s request. Commissioner Monestime noted he was satisfied with the threshold set forth in this ordinance, which was six times higher than the past year’s average quarterly consumption rate; and that this ordinance distinguished between normal and extraordinarily high water bills. He said he was comfortable with supporting it. Chairwoman Edmonson proposed that this ordinance be amended to require a quarterly report, rather than an annual report, as a compromise between Commissioners Diaz’ and Sosa’s proposals. She said she believed an annual report would be too infrequent. Mr. John Renfrow, Water and Sewer Department Director, noted any action taken by the Department would be recorded; maintained as a public record, and available for review upon request. He later noted the events causing extraordinarily high water bills were documented as they occurred. Responding to an inquiry from Commissioner Edmonson regarding how often extraordinarily high bills were reported, Mr. Renfrow noted, of the 16,000 water bills determined to be exceptionally high last year, thirteen thousand (13000) were credited and three thousand (3,000) remained unresolved because the Department could not provide an explanation for them. He later noted the 3,000 was a small percentage (0.0017%) of the total 1.6 million water bills issued last year. Mr. Renfrow said that high water bills were often due to acts of negligence, such as clients forgetting to turn off their water, and this ordinance would help resolve the anomalies. Commissioner Monestime suggested the ordinance be amended to require that the reports be provided quarterly for at least the first year following the effective date of this ordinance. Commissioner Diaz accepted Commissioner Monestime’s proposed amendment. He expressed appreciation to his colleagues for their support of this ordinance. Hearing no further questions or comments, the Committee forwarded the foregoing proposed ordinance to the County Commission with a favorable recommendation, with committee amendment(s) to add the following language to the end of Paragraph (1) of Section 32-101 on handwritten page 5 to read: “If awarded, similar to the credit provided in the Department’s’ Rules 2.10(1)(e) and 3.10(1)(e), such credit will be a 50% credit to the water portion of the customer’s high bill above the customer’s last yearly average consumption, and a 100% credit to the sewer portion of the high bill, above the customer’s last yearly average consumption;” and to change the word “annual” to “quarterly” in subparagraph (4) on handwritten page 6. Commissioner Barreiro noted one way to address mysterious water leaks and extraordinarily high water bills would be to implement a pre-payment system that captured the anomalies at the beginning of the payment cycle.

Legislative Text


TITLE
ORDINANCE CREATING SECTION 32-101; GRANTING DISCRETION TO THE DIRECTOR OF THE MIAMI-DADE WATER AND SEWER DEPARTMENT TO ISSUE A ONE-TIME LIFETIME BILLING ADJUSTMENT TO CUSTOMERS WHERE THERE ARE EXTREME CIRCUMSTANCES THAT MERIT AN ADJUSTMENT; PROVIDING SEVERABILITY, INCLUSION IN THE CODE, AND AN EFFECTIVE DATE

BODY
WHEREAS, Resolution No. R-1164-04 provides a one-time lifetime adjustment for a Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department quarterly single-family residential customer who receives a bill that exceeds six (6) times the past year’s average quarterly consumption due to a concealed leak; and
WHEREAS, Resolution No. 1164-04 has resulted in credits to customers that met the criterion in the amount $7,381,645.68 since its inception; and
WHEREAS, an adjustment to the bill for 50% of the excess water and 100% of the excess sewer charges above the average consumption is given if the quarterly single-family residential customer makes the necessary repairs to its plumbing and provides the information required by the Department’s Rules and Regulations; and
WHEREAS, on several occasions customers have received unusually high bills and neither the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department nor the customers have been able to explain the reason for such high bills; and
WHEREAS, this Board seeks to assist customers that receive a bill that exceeds six (6) times the past year’s average respective monthly or quarterly consumption and neither the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department nor the customers can explain the reason for the high bill; and
WHEREAS, in 2008, the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department received 11,087 high bill complaints and issued approximately 8,316 credits; and
WHEREAS, in 2009, the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department received 17,666 high bill complaints and issued approximately 12,965 credits; and
WHEREAS, in 2010, the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department received 16,364 high bill complaints and issued approximately 13,404 credits,
BE IT ORDAINED BY THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA, that:
Section 1. Section 32-101 of the Code of Miami-Dade County, Florida, is hereby created to read as follows1
>>32-101 Section 32-101. One-Time Lifetime Credit for Customers

(1) The Director of the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department is hereby given discretion to provide a one-time lifetime billing adjustment to a customer who disputes a high bill that is not the result of a concealed or visible leak. The Director’s discretion to grant such a credit will be based on his assessment that there are extreme circumstances affecting the customer’s account that merit a credit.<< >>If awarded, similar to the credit provided in the Department’s Rules 2.10(1)(e) and 3.10(1)(e), such credit will be a 50% credit to the water portion of the customer’s high bill above the customer’s last yearly average consumption and a 100% credit to the sewer portion of the customer’s high bill above the customer’s last yearly average consumption.<<2

>>(a) For purposes of this section, the term “extreme circumstances” is defined as those situations in which a customer receives a bill that exceeds six (6) times the past year’s average, as applicable, monthly or quarterly consumption but is unable to show the Department that the high bill is due to a leak, concealed or visible, and cannot otherwise explain the high water bill.

(2) In order to be considered for the one-time lifetime billing adjustment that the Director of the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department has been given discretion to grant, a customer seeking a one-time lifetime adjustment for extreme circumstances must be in good standing with the Department.

(a) For purposes of this section, a customer in “good standing” is defined as a customer who has not had the water disconnected for nonpayment or his/her account placed in collection during the previous 12 months.

(b) In order to request a one-time lifetime billing adjustment, a customer must submit their request on a form proscribed by the Department; and must provide the Department with a notarized affidavit stating that a licensed plumber has checked the residence (inside and out) for leaks (both concealed and visible); that the customer did not leave a hose running inadvertently or otherwise allow water to flow for any period of time; and that there have been no changes in water usage within the household during the billing period (i.e. new landscaping, guests visiting, major household repairs or construction that required increased water usage, problems with one’s pool or sprinkler system, or water theft.)

(3) The Department shall keep track of adjustments to ensure that a customer receives only one lifetime adjustment based on extreme circumstances.

(4) The Department will provide a report to the Board of County Commissioners on<< >>a quarterly<< [[an annual]] >>basis, which sets forth a detailed accounting of the one-time lifetime adjustments under R1164-04 and this section of the Code per year.

(5) Nothing in this section shall affect the Department’s Rules and Regulations that address the procedures and credits allowed when a concealed or visible leak has been discovered in connection with a single-family residential customer’s account.<<

Section 2. If any section, subsection, sentence, clause or provision of this ordinance is held invalid, the remainder of this ordinance shall not be affected by such invalidity.
Section 3. It is the intention of the Board of County Commissioners, and it is hereby ordained that the provisions of this ordinance, including any Sunset provision, shall become and be made a part of the Code of Miami-Dade County, Florida. The Sections of this ordinance may be renumbered or relettered to accomplish such intention and the word “ordinance may be changed to “section”, “article” or other appropriate word.
Section 4. This ordinance shall become effective ten (10) days after the date of enactment unless vetoed by the Mayor, and if vetoed, shall become effective only upon an override by this Board.



1 Words Stricken through and/or [[double bracketed]] shall be deleted. Words underscored and/or >>double arrowed<< constitute the amendment proposed. Remaining provisions are now in effect and remain unchanged.
2 Committee amendments are indicated as follows: words double stricken through and/or [[double bracketed]] shall be deleted, words double underlined and/or »double arrowed« constitute the amendment proposed.



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