GALLIPOLIS — Gallipolis City Commission gathered for a meeting Tuesday evening where city officials announced a decision to hold property owners responsible for water services and bills for their individual properties.
“We put into effect that the property owner will be responsible for new (water) services,” said Gallipolis City Manager Gene Greene. “If they come in and have a renter, the property owner is going to be responsible for them. We aren’t chasing people and renters all over the city trying to get our money. It ties up my water people in the office and causes us write-offs. We are not rental police.”
Greene attributed the decision to renters who will leave a property with a late water bill and go into a new building to start the process all over again.
According to City Clerk and Auditor Annette Landers, the city eats around $6,000 to $7,ooo in water bills a year.
“We haven’t gotten an answer back from them but the people that do our billing, they say that they can possibly do two bills,” said Greene to a woman questioning how water bills would be distributed. “In other words, one will come to you and one will go to the address (of the tenant) so that will give the people that you have in your rental property a chance to come in and pay it.”
One man in the back of the room questioned the legality of the decision and whether the city could refuse to service a property and mentioned seeing the city in court. City Commission President Tony Gallagher asked City Solicitor Adam Salisbury if he had anything to add in terms of information. Salisbury said no and that he would weigh-in at the appropriate time.
Another visitor to the meeting mentioned the difficulty of keeping up with irresponsible tenants’ water usage. Greene responded he understood but it left the city on the hook when the tenant moved. The visitor replied he felt like it may be taking away responsibility from individuals with Greene answering that the city could not serve as “rental police.”
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.