Below is Section 2.2 of Vista Irrigation District (District) Rules and Regualtions governing billing procedures.
2.2 BILLING PROCEDURES
2.2.1 Water Bill Charges
(See Section 4.4.14 of the District's Rules and Regulations for fees related to payment of water bills.)
Owner of record per the County of San Diego. The owner remains liable for water served to the property even when used by a Tenant. The District has no duty to collect any water charges, penalties or fees from a tenant who has vacated the property prior to collecting delinquent amounts from the Owner. Water bills are a lien on the land and may be added to the assessment roll of the District.
Occupying the premises with the Owner’s approval. Per Water code Section 25806, the Owner can elect to have the Tenant billed if the Owner completes and signs the District’s authorization form. However, Owner retains full responsibility for the payment of all water charges, penalties and fees. If the District sends a late note to the Tenant, it will also send a late notice to the Owner.
C. Billing Due Date
All water bills are due 15 days from the date of mailing and are subject to late penalty if not received within 25 days after the due date.
D. Good Payment Record
No late charges, returned checks, broken lock fees or delinquent alternative payment arrangements within the last 12 months.
E. Alternative Payment Arrangements
A Customer Service Representative may make arrangements of up to four months to clear the account. These payments should be approximately in equal amounts. A customer may be required to sign a payment arrangement. If customer fails to comply with an alternative payment arrangement for delinquent charges or fails to pay the current residential service bill for 60 days or more, the service becomes subject to discontinuation.
A request for Alternative Payment Agreements in excess of four months must be submitted to and approved by the General Manager or designee. Alternative Payment Arrangements may be granted for up to 12 months.
F. Hardship Payment Agreements
Customers meeting requirements specified in Section 2.2.4 (C) may be qualified to enter in a Hardship Payment Agreement to avoid discontinuation of residential water service. Failure to meet the Hardship Payment Agreements for more than 60 days will subject a customer to discontinuation.
2.2.3 Billing Procedures (until service discontinuation)
A. First billing, which is for approximately two months water use or from the last special read for eight bi-monthly cycles, and one-month use or from last special read for monthly cycles is due within 15 days from the date of mailing.
B. If payment is not received in the District office within 25 days after the due date, a late charge is added to the water account, and a Late Notice (second billing notice) is mailed. The Late Notice will include the District policy on Discontinuation of Water Service and identify the delinquent amount and late charge with a penalty date showing “PAST DUE”. If payment is not received within 21 days of the Late Notice being sent, the District will commence discontinuation of service 14 days later as outline in subsection 2.2.3 (D).
C. Prior to the penalty date, a customer with a good payment record may ask for an extension of up to 15 days beyond the penalty date with no late charge assessed. This extension may be granted at the discretion of the Customer Service Representative. Any waiver of late charges or extensions of time requested after the penalty date may be granted at the discretion of the Customer Service Supervisor. Tenants that do not meet specific income and financial requirements receive no further time extension after discontinuation of service to make payment without owner authorization.
D. If the customer does not contact the District after receiving the written notice of impending discontinuation of water service and payment is not received in the District office 14 days before scheduled discontinuation, the District will visit the premises and leave a notice of discontinuation of water service (door hanger) as well as the District’s policy on Discontinuation of Water Service. The notice will advise occupants that the water service will be discontinued unless the bill is PAID IN FULL or alternative payment arrangements are made with the District.
For multiple family residences, the District will make a reasonable attempt to notify the facility manager as set forth in subsection 2.2.3 above, and request that the manager give notice to all of the individual tenants affected by the discontinuation. In addition, the District shall post a written notice of the pending discontinuation of service in conspicuous location on the property served by the service connection, which may, but is not required to be, posted at the vehicular entry to such property from the public right of way. Such notice shall provide both a telephonic and e-mail contact at the District that parties subject to service discontinuation can contact for further information.
2.2.4 Discontinuation of Water Service Policy
A. The District may discontinue water service if the current water bill or alternative payment arrangement is delinquent for at least 60 days.
B. The District will provide written notice to the customer of record at least 14 days prior to discontinuation of water service.
C. For customers facing medical and financial hardship, the District will not discontinue water service if all of the following conditions are met.
1) The customer, or a tenant of the customer, submits to the District the certification of a primary care provider that discontinuation of residential water service will be life threatening to, or pose a serious threat to the health and safety of, a resident of the premises where residential service is provided.
2) The customer demonstrates that he or she is financially unable to pay for residential service within the District’s normal billing cycle. The customer is deemed financially unable to pay during the normal billing cycle if: (a) any member of the customer’s household is a current recipient of CalWORKs, CalFresh, general assistance, Medi-Cal, Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment Program, or California Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or (b) the customer declares under penalty of perjury that the household’s annual income is less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level; and
3) The customer is willing to enter into a Hardship Payment Agreement.
A customer meeting the above requirements may provide the District with appropriate documentation to demonstrate specified medical and economic hardship and enter into a Hardship Payment Agreement. The customer will be required to demonstrate eligibility for medical and financial hardship on an annual basis.
The District may discontinue water service if a customer granted a Hardship Payment Agreement under this section fails to do any of the following for 60 days or more: (a) pay any amount under a Hardship Payment Agreement or (b) pay the current charges for water service. The District will post a final notice of intent to discontinue service in a prominent and conspicuous location at the service address at least five business days prior to discontinuation of service. The final notice will not entitle the customer to any investigation or review by the District.
D. In the event of non-payment of a water bill by an Owner for a residence that receives individually metered residential water service, a Tenant may request to become the customer of record to avoid discontinuation of water service. In order to transfer service into Tenant’s name, the Owner will be required to complete and sign the District’s form of authorization providing approval to transfer into Tenant(s) name within 30 days. Should the District not receive the form of authorization within 30 days, the Tenant may continue to pay the Owner’s water bill in order to avoid discontinuation. In the event the Tenant cannot secure the Owner’s written authorization within 30 days, the Tenant may request the District to provide to Tenant, duplicate copies of the Owner’s water bills for the individually metered residential water service, to facilitate the Tenant’s ability to timely pay water bills accruing over time, which payments shall be treated by District as paid on behalf of Owner, until formal transfer is complete. Notwithstanding any such duplicate water bills, or payments accepted by District from Tenant, the Owner retains full responsibility for payment of any unpaid water bills and all subsequent charges to the property pursuant to California Water Code Section 25806.
E. If a customer disputes an unpaid water bill that is beyond the authority of the Customer Service Supervisor to resolve, the Customer Service Supervisor may defer the discontinuation of water service until the dispute can be reviewed by the General Manager and/or brought before the Board for final resolution. The dispute will not be referred to the General Manager or scheduled for consideration by the Board until the customer pays a reasonable portion of the disputed water bill. The reasonable portion of the disputed bill will be based on the customer’s account history.
The customer shall submit a written request of appeal to the Board Secretary to have his or her dispute considered as an item for discussion at an upcoming Board meeting, which would allow the Board to hear the dispute and take action. The written request of appeal shall include: 1) a description of the issue, 2) evidence supporting the claim, and 3) a request for resolution.
Water service shall not be discontinued pending an appeal.
F. Water service will be restored only upon payment of all delinquent charges and penalties.
2.2.5 Payment in the Field
Employees of the District are not authorized to receive money or checks from water customers in payment of water bills. Remittances should be made payable to the Vista Irrigation District (VID) and sent to the office of the District.
2.2.6 Broken Locks
A. Locked accounts shall be checked frequently for tampering.
B. If a lock is broken for the first time, the account shall be charged for the broken lock and for re-locking the service. The water account balance must be paid in full to reinstate service.
C. If a lock is broke a second time according to the account history available on computer look-up, the meter shall be removed and charges for the broken lock and pulling the meter shall be added to the account. The water account balance must be paid in full to reinstate service.
2.2.7 Unauthorized Taking of District Water
A. Where an unauthorized taking of District water is found at the location of a District customer account, pictures or videotapes may be taken and certified and first class letters sent to the customer (owner and/or tenant) giving them thirty (30) days after receipt of the letter to pay the water account in full, including estimated unrecorded use. If receipt of the letter is refused, or other circumstances dictate, an attempt will be made to deliver the letter to the occupant of the property. The District may disconnect water service pursuant to section 2.2.9, Disconnection of Service, ten (10) days after providing written notice. Written notice may be left as a door hanger.
B. Where the unauthorized taking of District water is through a connection to a fire hydrant or any other appurtenance (including but not limited to air vents, backflow devices, etc.), and because by definition unauthorized connections are not metered, it shall be presumed that 500 units of water was used. The District shall have the discretion to increase or decrease the presumed amount of unauthorized use based on the available evidence.
C. The District may take any other action authorized by law, including injunctive relief or recovery of damages under the California Civil Code. Unauthorized taking of District water may subject the offender to criminal penalties.
D. A party charged with unauthorized taking of District water may request in writing that the determination of unauthorized water use, or the charges resulting therefrom, be appealed to the District’s General Manager or designee. The written request for appeal must include a description of the issue, sufficient background facts to support the asserted grounds for appeal, the specific remedy being requested, and any evidence supporting the appeal.
E. A party may appeal the decision of the General Manager or designee to the Board of Directors by addressing a written request to appeal to the Board Secretary per section 1.4.3, Agenda Procedures, of the District’s Rules and Regulations. The requesting party shall be notified of the date and time of the meeting that the appeal will be heard. The party may attend the meeting to present information about the incident or respond to questions asked by the Board. The Board may, at its discretion, affirm, reverse or modify the determination of the General Manager or designee. The Board’s determination shall be considered final resolution of the dispute.
2.2.8 Disconnection of Service
A. The service may be “crimped” or disconnected at the main, at the District’s discretion. Time and materials shall be charged to the water account.
B. The water service will be restored only when application for a meter is made and the application fees and delinquent fees are paid.