By Karen Brainard
As part of an ongoing project to update its Legislative Code, Ramona Municipal Water District gave customers 26 days to dispute their bills.
“We’re going to try to update all various sections of our code to make it user friendly, more understandable, and to provide clarity to the process,” Human Resources Director Mike Callahan said at the board’s Feb. 26 meeting.
He presented proposed amendments to code sections that deal with appeal procedures, adoption of rates and charges, property liens for delinquent charges, waiving of fees, deferred payment arrangements, and reduction in deliveries during shortages.
Staff recommended adding a 15-day deadline for customers to dispute bills once they are mailed, but Director George Foote said that was too short. Giving the scenario that a customer could leave on a two-week vacation at the same time a bill is mailed, Foote said it could be possible that the customer would not have time to dispute his bill once he returned.
“I think 15 days is far too short a time period, unreasonable and unnecessary,” said Foote. “We didn’t have any limit before and all of a sudden we’re adding on a limit.”
After mentioning recent bill disputes, Director Joe Zenovic said, “I would agree that 15 days is short, given your scenario, but people come to take advantage.”
The board agreed by a vote of 3-2 to change the proposed 15-day dispute time frame to 26 days, with Zenovic and Darrell Beck, board president, opposing. Zenovic suggested a notice be inserted with bills on the new appeal process.
Note: Although the original story said 21 days to dispute bills, the water district said it is a total of 26 days