If you own an older home or rental property in Lodi, you will probably soon receive a $300 bill to pay for a water meter.
The city sent out the notices on Saturday. From Monday morning to around noon on Tuesday, city employees fielded 250 calls from concerned residents, Public Works Director Wally Sandelin said.
It is the largest number of calls the city has received from any of the water meter mailings that have gone out so far, he said.
From the phone calls, the city has corrected outdated data and found out some people already paid for their meters but were not on the city’s list. Sandelin said it has also been an opportunity to ease people’s concerns.
He encourages anyone who has questions about whether they should be getting a meter bill to contact Public Works at 333-6706. Also, for more information, go to the www.lodi.gov and click on the link for frequently asked water meter questions.
Below are some of the questions residents are asking:
Who is getting a bill?
About 3,000 people have already paid for a meter because they are in homes built after 1992 or underwent a large home renovation.
There are 13,174 residential properties in Lodi that do not currently have a meter. Owners of these single-family homes and landlords with up to four individual units on a single parcel are receiving the bills.
What are my options for paying the $300?
Property owners will need to decide soon whether to pay in one lump sum or over a three-year period. The city will accept payments for the entire cost of the meter until June 30.
Anyone who does not pay the fee in one lump sum will start receiving a monthly charge on their water bill on July 1. Homeowners will pay $8.52 a month over three years. The city will charge 1.5 percent interest, which equals $6.72 over three years.
The city will place a mechanic lien on every property that plans to pay over three years. City staff estimates about 70 percent, or 9,047 homeowners, will choose the payment plan option.
Will a mechanic lien affect my credit score?
No. The property lien will be recorded with the San Joaquin County Recorder’s office. The recorder does not report liens to credit reporting agencies.
Also, the city did some research before proposing the liens, and credit bureaus do not check for mechanical liens, Sandelin said.
When will construction begin?
This year, the city will install about 3,900 meters, kicking off a seven-year, $35 million construction project.
To see when your meter will be installed, go to www.lodi.gov and click on “visit the city’s water meter page,” then click on the map link on the side of the page.
How did we get to this point?
Originally, the council approved charging every property owner the cost to install the meter and the infrastructure from the street to the house.
The city estimated that the costs would run between $300 and $1,100.
But in October, the council decided homeowners will only be responsible for $300, which is the cost of the meter, and city funds will pay for the infrastructure from the street to the house.
Why do I have to pay for my meter now even though it will not be installed until 2017?
When the council voted to decrease the homeowner costs of the meter program to $300, it was contingent on all of the meters being paid for within three years.
Having residents pay all at once will give the water utility adequate cashflow for the project, Sandelin said. Otherwise, the council would have to consider a rate increase, he said.