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May 28, 2014

MSWD Workshop - May 12, 2014

Directors John Brown and John Furbee were absent from this meeting.

Customer Account Policy

One of the principles formulated by the Citizens Advisory Committee was to "Decrease policies and practices that subsidize groups or individuals, or result in unrecovered expenses for MSWD." One of the first steps is to try to streamline customer service at the front desk.

The current policy is to allow renters to open accounts in their own name with their landlord's agreement. The district has about 2,700 accounts like this. This practice consumes a significant amount of time and expense. The district has calculated this work load to equal as much as 2.75 full-time equivalencies per year. 1.5 FTEs are at the front desk and 1.25 FTEs are in service department and accounting time. Tenant accounts consume half of the front desk's work time. This tenant workload costs the district an additional $300,000/year (average $10/month per tenant account) but the district receives no additional compensation from tenants or landlords to cover this expense. Depreciation, vehicle expense and equipment costs are not included in the $300,000 figure.

Alternative #1 would be to maintain the status quo, but implement a new fee on the tenant accounts. That fee would need to be about $10/month to recover expenses.

Alternative #2 would be to change the policy so that accounts would be only in the property owner's name. The district would not deal with tenants at all. This would allow the 2.75 FTEs to be re-allocated to work that is more productive.

Alternative #3 would be like #2, but if the owner also wanted a copy of the bill sent to the tenant, the district would do so for a fee. Anybody can pay the bill, but only the owner can request the water to be turned on or off. The fee would probably in the range of $2 to $3/month.

Whichever method the board chooses, the implementation process would be fairly quick. One idea is to establish a deadline of 6 months (that is, 6 months notice). During those 6 months any new or changed accounts involving tenants would be treated under the new policy. Staff estimated this could be 10% to 20% of tenant accounts. A new application for an account would be requested from the property owners whose units had not already come under the new policy. When the 6-month deadline is reached, all accounts would be switched to the new policy.

Staff considered Alternative #3 to be the most acceptable. The three directors present also supported #3. Staff will prepare the necessary paper work and bring it back to the board as quickly as possible for their review and approval.

Filed under Coachella Valley,Desert Hot Springs | permalink | May 28, 2014 at 01:18 PM

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