Tired of playing the middleman
Big Sky Resort Area District may move to owner-only billing
Some Big Sky County Water and Sewer District (BSCWSD) rate payers may see a shift in billing.
The historical move to allow renters to take over the water and sewer bills from homeowners has been an onerous task for many district staff. In essence, the district has been playing middleman between owners and renters. A proposed shift could make it to where only the owner will receive the bill. After much discussion the board unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance amendment.
BSWSD board member Dick Fast and other board members wanted to make sure homeowners would have the opportunity to discuss unintended consequences with the district before the second reading at next month’s meeting – when it could be finalized.
BSCWSD administrative assistant Marlene Kennedy said that with the increased rentals to the rental pool, her job has become even more time consuming.
She personally spends many hours a week in prorating, calculating and billing for those transfers and also noted a water operator has to do meter readings to get her the information for move-ins and move-outs.
“Dividing up the bill creates tons of time. Like most utilities, the responsibility really needs to go to the owner. You’re adding another layer of confusion. The simplest solution is work it out with the owner, and let them work out whatever deal they want with their tenants,” water superintendent Jim Muscat said. “As this portal system gets going, it will allow the owners to take control of their water system. They have options, and those options are going to be easier. Marlene and Terry [Smith – financial officer] are constantly being the middleman between renters and owners and it gets tiresome, I can assure you.”
Board member Mike DuCunnois said the fee is almost not worth it for all the work Kennedy has to do. He also stated another perspective: “If we change this everybody that has got a lease out there is now going to be in the collections business.”
Increasing the fee and exploring less tedious options was something board member Peter Manka discussed while board president Tom Reeves thought eliminating an additional fee for renters during an economic crisis sounded like a reasonable option.
Fast motioned to pass first reading, board member Mike Wikcynski seconded and it passed unanimously.
The board is welcoming comments from impacted parties before they make the decision at next month’s meeting