Utility Assessment Policy
Property Owners in the City of Saint Peter Can Protect Themselves from Unanticipated Utility Assessments
The City Finance Department handles billing services of electric, water, wastewater, stormwater, and refuse service for approximately 4,000 Saint Peter customers.
Customers are billed monthly for utility services. Bills are sent on the first of each month and payments are due by the 15th. When an account becomes 2 months delinquent, the Finance Department makes every effort to collect the overdue accounts. Establishment of payment plans, the use of limiting meters during the winter or disconnection of service are all utilized in an attempt to obtain payment. When all attempts to collect fail and the account has been closed, the account is turned over to a collection agency. In the event the collection agency is unable to obtain payment of the delinquent bill, the City is left with no recourse other than to assess the current property owner.
Minnesota Statutes and City Code allow the City to assess property owners for delinquent utility bills incurred by the property owner or tenant. Members of the City Council review and recommend disposition of delinquent utility accounts annually. In the event the delinquent utility bill is in the name of the property owner, the City may assess for all delinquent utilities (including electric, water, wastewater, storm water, and refuse). If the account is in the name of a tenant, the City may assess the property owner for all delinquent utility services with the exception of delinquent billings for electrical service.
As property owners or prospective property owners, you may want to consider the following:
a. When purchasing property, be certain that an assessment search has been done on the property - including a search for delinquent utility bills. In the event you are utilizing standardized residential real estate paperwork, be certain the specifics regarding pending or current assessments have been addressed. If you are uncomfortable or uncertain that your interests have been addressed, you may choose to seek legal counsel.
b. When you sell your property on a contract for deed, you may inquire at the Finance Department to see if the purchaser is delinquent on their utility account. If the property should come back due to a default on the contract, you or the next person the property is sold to, could be assessed for the delinquent utility bill.
c. When a tenant moves out of a rental property, the account is put into the property owners name and left in that name until the new tenant signs a contract for service with the City and pays a $100 deposit. To be certain your new tenant has paid their utility deposit and completed the utility services paperwork at City Hall, ask to see their pink receipt.
d. As a landlord, you may choose to have a clause in your contract with the tenant specifically addressing the issue of unpaid utilities. You may, for example, specify that any remaining balance left in the rental damage deposit be applied to any delinquent utility bills. Though the City does collect a $100 utility deposit from renters, there is occasionally a remaining utility balance.
e. A notice is sent to both the customer and landlord (if applicable), when an account is past due. Be certain you and/or your tenant respond promptly.
The staff of the Finance Department takes great pride in servicing our many utility service customers. By following the above guidelines you will lessen your chances of being assessed for bills owed by a previous owner or tenant. In addition, you will be assisting the City in reducing the number of bad debt accounts and concurrently helping to hold down utility rates.
If you need assistance, or you would like additional information regarding the assessment of delinquent utility bills, please contact the Finance Department at 934-0664.