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Twin Falls city officials advance utility account losses discussion

Currently, tenants have equal footing with property owners when it comes to utility accounts, but that may change
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Published: May. 10, 2022 at 9:53 AM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — Discussions continue with the Twin Falls City Council on how the city can reduce utility account losses on rental properties.

Currently, tenants have equal footing with property owners when it comes to utility accounts, but that may change. According to staff reports shown at Monday’s City Council meeting, several of Idaho’s largest cities hold property owners responsible for utility accounts, which essentially means they do not allow for accounts in tenant names.

A proposal at the meeting would allow for existing accounts to be grandfathered in, but new utility accounts after a to be decided effective date would be required to be in the property owner’s name.

This differs from earlier discussions that centered around a possible points system that officials found was unlikely to be feasible.

Officials believe the shift in utility account responsibility would save the city over $100,000 per year.

“When the city of Kimberly shifted their policy, their bad debts went from about $33,000 down to $2,000,” said the city’s Assistant Finance Director Brett Hyatt. “When the city of Jerome shifted the responsibility to the property owners, their bad debts went from about $50,000 down to $3,000.”

The City Council unanimously voted to approve a process that provides for further exploration of this proposed system, including two open houses on June 9 one at 4:00 p.m. and one at 7:00 p.m. for input and comments on the proposed ordinance.

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