By SEAN ROWLEY
The Tahlequah Daily Press recently received a query from a Facebook friend about how the Tahlequah Public Works Authority approves rates and deposit fees.
Mike Doublehead, general manager for the TPWA, said fees are determined by the authority board, which meets the third Friday of each month at 9 a.m. at 101 N. College Ave.
TPWA customer John Morgan wrote: “I’ve lived at Pleasant View Apts since 2006, and when I went to pay my bill, I asked if there was a fee to transfer to a new address (already paid a $200 deposit in 2006) and they told me that they raised the deposit up to $400 even for existing customers.”
Doublehead said he could not directly discuss a particular customer’s account.
“We are expected to treat our customers’ information with the same confidentiality as banks,” he said. “However, deposits are based on the anticipated usage at a residence. If someone moves from an apartment to a home with a higher history of usage, the deposit could increase.”
Deposit fees include estimations of water, gas and electric consumption. The TPWA asks for deposits because customers are billed after usage and permitted a few weeks to rectify delinquent accounts.
“By the time we disconnect an account, a customer may have accumulated two months of usage that isn’t paid for,” Doublehead said. “The deposit is used to cover that.”
Doublehead said the deposit amounts were adjusted by the TPWA board on April 1, 2011, which could result in additional deposit fees for those who have since moved.
“The electric deposit on a home is $200, unless it is a total electric home, then it is $400,” he said. “Water is $50; gas is $100. I know that in 2007, the deposit was $200. From what I understand, it got to where those deposits were not covering the amounts that some customers left owing, and the authority was taking the hit. So the board approved an increase in the deposits.”