>Baker City Herald | Baker County Oregon's News Leader

Baker news NE Oregon Classifieds Web
web powered by Web Search Powered by Google

Follow BakerCityHerald.com

Baker City Herald print edition

view all Baker City Herald print publications »

The Baker City Herald is now online in a Replica E-edition form and publishes Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Current subscribers have full access to the E-edition.

View Paper

If you are not a current subscriber, subscribe today for immediate access.

Subscribe


Recent article comments

Powered by Disqus

Home arrow Opinion arrow Editorials arrow Don’t punish all renters

Don’t punish all renters


We don’t like that Baker City had to hire a collection agency to try to recover about $25,000 in unpaid water/sewer bills during the most recent fiscal year.

But we like even less the prospect of forcing many residents — most of whom pay their utility bills on time — to pay higher rents because a relatively handful of renters are irresponsible.

We’re concerned, though, that the latter scenario would result if the City Council goes along with the proposal City Manager Mike Kee unveiled earlier this month.

Councilors are slated to discuss a more detailed version of Kee’s plan during their meeting Tuesday.

The basic concept is that the city, as Oregon law allows, would transfer unpaid water bills from a tenant to the landlord.

The city’s only recourse now, when a tenant fails to pay, is to send the debt to a collection agency.

“We are writing off tens of thousands of dollars every year,” Kee said. “It is not good business.”

He’s right.

City officials also contend that shifting the bill from tenant to landlord would persuade landlords to fix water leaks that contribute to higher bills and, potentially, to bills going unpaid.

Perhaps. But the city offered no evidence that leaks are primarily responsible for this problem.

Moreover, Oregon rental laws, which require landlords to provide a certain level of property maintenance, are the better vehicle for addressing leaks.

The most glaring problem with the city’s idea, though, is that it probably would end up punishing responsible renters.

If landlords know that they could be saddled with a former tenant’s unpaid water/sewer bills then they would likely do what most business owners do when their costs go up — increase rents to ensure they can cover any shortfalls.

Besides which, it’s possible, if not probable, that a tenant who fails to pay a water/sewer bill might also be less than reliable in paying the rent, too.

We’re not suggesting the city write off unpaid bills as inevitable — although, in reality, no city will ever collect every cent it bills out for services.

The city should continue to be aggressive in its collection efforts.

But the current level of losses doesn’t justify a policy change that would harm people who already pay their bills, to city and landlord alike, on time.

 
blog comments powered by Disqus
News
Local / Sports / Business / State / National / Obituaries / Submit News
Opinion
Editorials / Letters / Columns / Submit a letter
Features
Outdoors / Go Magazine / Milestones / Living Well
Baker Herald
About / Contact / Commercial Printing / Subscriptions / Terms of Use / Privacy Policy / Commenting Policy / Site Map
Also Online
Photo Reprints / Videos / Local Business Links / Community Links / Weather and Road Cams / RSS Feed

Follow Baker City Herald headlines on Follow Baker City Herald headlines on Twitter

© Copyright 2001 - 2014 Western Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. By Using this site you agree to our Terms of Use