Article 11 Utilities

Article 11.  Utilities Generally

§3-1101   UTILITIES GENERALLY; DIVERSION OF SERVICES; PENALTY.  The Municipality may bring a civil action for damages against any person who commits, authorizes, solicits, aids, abets, or attempts (a) bypassing, (b) tampering, or (c) unauthorized metering when such act results in damages to a Municipal Utility.  A Municipality may bring a civil action for damages pursuant to this section against any person receiving the benefit of utility service through means of bypassing, tampering or unauthorized metering.

In any civil action brought pursuant to this section, the Municipality shall be entitled, upon proof of willful or intentional bypassing, tampering, or unauthorized metering to recover as damages:    

A.  The amount of actual damage or loss if the  amount of the damage or loss is susceptible of reasonable calculation; or

B.  Liquidated damages of (i) until July 1, 1985, five hundred dollars ($500.00) and (ii) on July 1, 1985, and thereafter, seven hundred fifty dollars ($750.00) if the amount of actual damage or loss is not susceptible of reasonable calculation.

In addition to damage or loss under subdivision A or B of this section the Municipality may recover all reasonable expenses and costs incurred on account of the bypassing, tampering, or unauthorized metering including, but not limited to, disconnection, reconnection, service calls, equipment, costs of the suit, and reasonable attorneys' fees in cases within the scope of section 25-1801 Reissue Revised Statutes of Nebraska 1943.

There shall be a rebuttable presumption that a tenant or occupant at any premises where bypassing, tampering or unauthorized metering is proven to exist caused or had knowledge of such bypassing, tampering, or unauthorized metering if the tenant or occupant (a) had access to the part of the utility supply system on the premises where the bypassing, tampering, or unauthorized metering is proven to exist and (b) was responsible or partially responsible for payment, either directly or indirectly, to the utility or to any other person for utility services to the premises.

There shall be a rebuttable presumption that a customer at any premises where bypassing, tampering, or unauthorized metering is proven to exist caused or had knowledge of such bypassing, tampering, or unauthorized metering if the customer controlled access to the part of the utility supply system on the premises where the bypassing, tampering, or unauthorized metering was proven to exist.  

The remedies provided by this section shall be deemed to be supplemental and additional to powers conferred by existing laws and the remedies provided in this section are in addition to an not in limitation of any other civil or criminal statutory or common law remedies.  (Ref.  86-331.01 through 86-331.04 RS Neb.)

§3-1102   UTILITIES GENERALLY; DISCONTINUANCE OF SERVICE, NOTICE PROCEDURE.  (1) The Municipality shall have the right to discontinue utility services and remove its properties if the charges for such services are not paid within seven (7) days after the date that the charges become delinquent.  Before any termination, the Municipality shall first give notice by first-class mail or in person to any domestic subscriber whose service is proposed to be terminated.  If notice is given by first-class mail, such mail shall be conspicuously marked as to its importance.  Service shall not be discontinued for at least seven (7) days, weekends and holidays excluded, after notice is sent or given.  As to any subscriber who has previously been identified as a welfare recipient to the Municipality by the Department of Health and Human Services, such notice shall be by certified mail and notice of such proposed termination shall be given to the Department of Health and Human Services.   

(2)  The notice shall contain the following information:

(a)  The reason for the proposed disconnection;

(b) A statement of the intention to disconnect unless the domestic subscriber either pays the bill or reaches an agreement with the Municipality regarding payment of the bill;

(c)  The date upon which service will be disconnected if the domestic subscriber does not take appropriate action;

(d)  The name, address, and telephone number of the employee or department to whom the domestic subscriber may address an inquiry or complaint;

(e) The domestic subscriber’s right, prior to the disconnection date, to request a conference regarding any dispute over such proposed disconnection;

(f) A statement that the municipality may not disconnect service pending the conclusion of the conference;

(g) A statement to the effect that disconnection may be postponed or prevented upon presentation of a duly licensed physician’s certificate which shall certify that the domestic subscriber or a resident within such subscriber’s household has an existing illness or handicap which would cause such subscriber or resident to  suffer an immediate and serious  health hazard by the disconnection of the Municipality’s service to that household.  Such certificate shall be filed with the Municipality within five (5) days of receiving notice under this section and will prevent the disconnection of the Municipality’s service for a period of thirty (30) days from such filing.  Only one (1) postponement of disconnection shall be allowed under this subsection for each incidence of nonpayment of any past-due account;

(h) The cost that will be borne by the domestic subscriber for restoration of service;

(i) A statement that the domestic subscriber may arrange with the Municipality for an installment payment plan;

(j) A statement to the effect that those domestic subscribers who are welfare recipients may qualify for assistance in payment of their utility bill and that they should contact their caseworker in that regard; and

(k) Any additional information not inconsistent with this section which has received prior approval from the Governing Body. (3) A domestic subscriber may dispute the proposed discontinuance of service by notifying the Municipality with a written statement that sets forth the reasons for the dispute and the relief requested if a statement has been made by the subscriber, a conference shall be held before the Municipality may discontinue services.

(4)  The procedures adopted by the Governing Body for resolving utility bills, three (3) copies of which are on file in the office of the Municipal Clerk, are hereby incorporated by reference in addition to any amendments thereto and are made a part of this section as though set out in full.

(5) This section shall not apply to any disconnections or interruptions of services made necessary by the Municipality for reasons of repair or maintenance or to protect the health or safety of the domestic subscriber or of the general public.  (Ref. 70-1602 et seq. RS Neb.)  (Amended: Ord. #97-120)

§3-1103 UTILITIES GENERALLY; DIVERSION OF SERVICES, METER TAMPERING, UNAUTHORIZED RECONNECTIONPROHIBITED; EVIDENCE.  (1) Any person who connects any instrument, device, or contrivance with any wire supplying or intended to supply electricity or electric current or connects any pipe or conduit supplying gas or water, without the knowledge and consent of the Municipality, in such manner that any portion thereof may be supplied to any instrument by or at which electricity, electric current, gas, or water may be consumed without passing through the meter provided for measuring or registering the amount or quantity passing through it, and any person who knowingly uses or knowingly permits the use of electricity, electric current, gas, or water obtained in the above mentioned unauthorized ways, shall be deemed guilty of an offense.

(2) Any person who willfully injures, alters, or by any instrument, device, or contrivance in any manner interferes with or obstructs the action or operation of any meter made or provided for measuring or registering the amount or quantity of electricity, gas, or water passing through it, without the knowledge and consent of the Municipality shall be deemed guilty of an offense.

(3) When electrical, gas, or water service has been disconnected pursuant to sections 70-1601 to 70-1615 RS Neb., or section 3-1102 of this Code, any person who reconnects such service without the knowledge and consent of the Municipality shall be deemed guilty of an offense.

(4) Proof of the existence of any wire, pipe, or conduit connection or reconnection or of any injury, alteration, or obstruction of a meter, as provided in this section, shall be taken as prima facie evidence of the guilt of the person in possession of the premises where such connection, reconnection, injury, alteration, or obstruction is proved to exist.  (Ref. 86-329 through 86-331 RS Neb.)(Added by Ord. 96-108)

§3-1104.     UTILITIES GENERALLY; DENIAL OF UTILITY SERVICE; WHEN PROHIBITED.  No applicant for the services of a public or private utility company furnishing water, natural gas, or electricity at retail in this municipality shall be denied service because of unpaid bills for similar service which are not collectable by law because of statutes of limitations or discharge in bankruptcy proceedings.  (Ref. 70-1601 RS Neb.)  (Ord. #99-122)

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