Vader officials have said they are willing to pursue the option of home foreclosure against those with delinquent sewer accounts as several such accounts have gone years without being paid.
During a discussion at their Sept. 17 meeting, it was reported more than a dozen accounts have not been paid since 2010 after Lewis County acquired Vader’s water service due to the city’s inability to financially support the system. Without being able to deny water to delinquent sewer customers, and being unable to shut off sewer service, the city has had no form of immediate recourse to correct such problems and has been experiencing shortfalls in the sewer budget due to late accounts.
During the discussion, which had originally been about year-to-date budget figures, City Clerk Jill Nielson reported multiple sewer accounts have been the subject of a mechanic’s lien against the property owner and that the next step, should the city wish to do so, would be to pursue foreclosure on the property and for the city to sell the lot at auction to recover their costs.
Council Member Kevin Flynn stated foreclosing on one property may show the city is willing to pursue serious action and encourage other delinquent customers to settle their accounts, or at least set up a payment plan. Council Member Janet Charlton added she would expect grown adults to pay their bills on time if they are responsible enough to own or rent their own property.
Sensitive to the idea of foreclosing on a rented property, the council did ask how many accounts eligible for foreclosure were renters versus owners, and Nielson said the large majority are owners. More specific information about account holders was not discussed, with Billing Clerk Dianne Floyd later advising doing so would be a significant violation of collection laws.
It was resolved the city should add additional information to sewer bills telling customers about Vader’s legal options when seeking to collect on outstanding bills, including and up to foreclosure. Nielson said she would consult with legal aid to be sure such information was worded correctly and would not violate collection laws.