WATER, SEWER and/or STORM WATER BILLING APPEALS
This policy details the avenue for addressing disputes about water, sewer and stormwater accounts, with the intent of resolving customer issues and inquiries as quickly as possible.
An account holder or agent authorized to act on a customer’s behalf may address issues related to their accounts by contacting Portland Water Bureau Customer Service or visiting the Customer Service Walk-In Center during regular business hours. When responding to inquiries, staff will consider bureau policies, billing accuracy, account history and special circumstances relating to the account holder’s issue or concern. Customer concerns that cannot be resolved by a Customer Account Specialist will be reviewed by a supervisor or the Customer Service Advanced Solutions Team as necessary. If the issues or concern cannot be resolved at this level, the account holder will be informed of his or her right to a formal review by the Administrative Review Committee (ARC). The ARC will review accounts only when billing complaints cannot be resolved by other means.
The account holder or agent who requests the formal appeal of a bill-related issue must submit a written request to the ARC for a review of the account in question. The written appeal must state what the customer believes the issue(s) to be and the specific remedy requested. The request must also state what informal efforts were made to resolve the matter.
When a written appeal is received, all pending actions on the disputed portion of the account will be suspended until the merits of the case have been reviewed and a decision rendered. The account holder is expected to keep current any undisputed portion of the account. Failure to do so may lead to standard collection efforts being applied to the account.
The ARC will meet monthly, or as needed, for the purpose of considering written appeals received at least ten days prior to the scheduled meeting date. The ARC will evaluate City Code and policies, rate ordinances, account history and any special circumstances related to the case before rendering its decision. If desired, time will be allowed for an oral presentation of the account holder’s position. The customer is not required to be present during the review, however. The ARC may accept the customer’s requested remedy, authorize an alternate remedy, or deny the appeal.
The ARC will provide written notification to the account holder by letter within ten business days of reaching a decision. The letter will explain the decision and give a clear explanation of future expectations for the account. An account holder may appeal the ARC’s decision to the Code Hearings Officer. That process is begun by notifying the Water Bureau Administrator of the intent to appeal. That notice must be given in writing within 15 days after the date of the ARC’s written decision. The Code Hearings Officer may uphold or repeal the ARC’s decision. To defray the costs of an appeal, a fee shall be paid at the time the hearing is requested. This fee will be refunded if the Code Hearings Officer repeals the ARC’s decision.