What role does the ombudsman play?
The Ombudsman is an independent contractor appointed by the TMWA Board of Directors. They are there to assist a customer in resolving issues in which the customer doesn’t feel that they are getting the service they need from TMWA. She is available at any time to talk with customers and her contact information is always available on our Web site http://tmh2o.com/.
Can you explain the concept of a deposit for those of us who may not understand?
A deposit is used to guarantee an account should a customer be disconnected while still owing a balance. The required residential deposit is 150% of the customer’s average bill, with a minimum of $100. However, if a customer becomes eligible to be disconnected for non-payment, they may be charged a total deposit of up to 300% of their highest bill. This is because by the time we disconnect a customer for non-payment, there has already been three months of water used. The 300% ensures that should it happen again, the rest of the TMWA customers will be protected. It’s important to note that if a customer pays their bill on time for one year, the deposit is credited back to the account with interest. If they have more than three late payments during that year, the deposit continues to be held on the account, but interest is paid on the account every month. The deposit is ultimately returned when the customer has a year of service with three late payments or less and no disconnections for non-payment, or cancels their account with TMWA.
Anything else that you would like to add?
There are always two sides to every story. In the recent news, you only read one side of two customers who were having payment problems. We have very detailed customer service records that tell the rest of the story. The records show we worked with the customers for multiple months, including making arrangements for payment that the customers did not keep.
I also would like to say that we live in this community as well. Our employees are your friends, neighbors and family. We recognize and understand the economic climate that customers are experiencing, and we want to work with customers as much as possible to assist them. If a customer is experiencing a hardship as it relates to their water bill, the first thing they should do is call us. We will make arrangements, schedule a review or generally help in any way that we can. But we cannot do any of that unless the customer contacts us first.
How can people get in touch with you?
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. In addition to managing This Is Reno, he holds a part-time appointment for the Mineral County University of Nevada Extension office.