Legislation Allows Counties to Tackle Water Affordability

MACo Associate Director Barbara Zektick testified in support of Senate Bill 709, Environment – Water and Sewer Service”, before the Senate Education & Health & Environmental Affairs Committee on February 20, 2018.

SB 709 grants counties the authority to shut off water to vacant and abandoned properties, while also allowing counties to develop water affordability programs. Alongside payment plans, these actions will help counties and individuals from going to tax sale over unpaid water bills. Altogether, these potential programs can give counties the flexibility to effectively collect water bills, while helping homeowners manage costs and conserve resources.

From MACo Testimony:

This bill helps homeowners avoid going to tax sale over unpaid water bills by addressing the problem long before those bills become overdue. By enabling counties to develop water affordability programs, payment plans and “round up programs” to fund payment assistance services, SB 709 helps counties help those who can least afford their water bills, in a targeted manner that makes the most sense for each local jurisdiction.

In addition, enabling water shut off to vacant and abandoned properties helps keep water bills at bay at properties where the service is not being used or may even cause harm by flooding or otherwise deteriorating a vacant structure. By reducing or eliminating these unneeded services, bills and resulting liens remain lower on the property, and it is easier to bring the property to more fruitful use.”

For more information, follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2018 legislative session here.