North Ogden plans to rescind utility shut-off resolution

Jan 24 2012 - 12:25am

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NORTH OGDEN -- Residents who don't pay their code violation fines may soon get a reprieve.

The council plans to rescind a resolution passed in October that allows the city to shut off major utilities if citations for code violations aren't paid.

Councilman Justin Fawson said he feels the city may be exceeding its authority by shutting off major utilities such as water and sewer if other bills are not paid.

He and other residents have expressed concern that there is no solid line of what constitutes a code violation, and that possibly petty issues, such as not licensing a dog, could get caught in the mix.

"I understand the reason for the decision, but my feeling is, we are overstepping our bounds," Fawson said.

The resolution was brought to the council at the suggestion of City Attorney Dave Carlson, who said the city has no recourse to collect the funds.

In October, the council voted 4-1 to pass the resolution, with City Councilman Wade Bigler dissenting.

Bigler thinks that if people are paying their water bill, they shouldn't have water shut off for not paying another bill.

"If residents pay their utility bill, they should get utility services," he said.

Fawson said he thinks keeping the resolution will come back to bite the city and that it gives North Ogden a bad image.

City Councilman Kent Bailey agreed, saying, "It seems to have an onerous sound. I would like us to be a friendlier, warmer, fuzzier city than that."

Carlson said the intent behind the resolution was not to be heavy-handed, but that it was an equity issue.

He explained that if North Ogden lets it slide when people refuse to pay their obligations to the city, it will mean other residents will have to pay in the long run.

"Who gets to pay -- the deadbeat or the honorable citizen?"

The issue has been a hot topic in Utah League of Cities and Towns meetings and conferences, as many cities face the same dilemma, Carlson said.

He feels it's a solution to deal with an imperfect world.

Other cities have adopted resolutions similar to North Ogden's and have been successful.

Carlson said the city doesn't have a huge number of problems, but there are some. Currently, the city has been using the ordinance to deal with one resident.

The council plans to vote at tonight's meeting on rescinding the earlier action.

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