Effective February 1st, 2023 Rialto’s moratorium on water disconnections and penalties ends

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Photo courtesy Rialto Water Services: The City of Rialto is issuing the above postcard to all residents in the city announcing the end of its water moratorium, which has been in place since April 2020.

In a 4-0 vote on January 10th, the Rialto City Council made a motion to end the moratorium on water disconnections and late penalties for water and wastewater, effective February 1st, 2023. 

The moratorium, which has been in effect since April 2020, was brought forth to help mitigate the loss of income of residents at the cusp of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“As of the week of January 15th, 2023, Rialto city staff is prepared to mail postcards to all residences in the city in English and Spanish explaining that the moratorium has ended. In addition, it will detail that beginning February 2023, all delinquent accounts will receive a courtesy 60-day letter detailing the late fees on the bill, followed by a courtesy 30 days late letter in March 2023,” said Toyasha Sebbag, assistant to the city manager (utilities). 

After the 30-day notice is issued, residents will receive a 14 and a five-day disconnection notice before the termination of service and a doorknob tag is left, which for some residents will happen in April 2023. 

During the discussion, Mayor Pro Tem Ed Scott shared that as a member of the City’s water committee, the council not only has an obligation to help protect residents and their wellbeing, but they also have an obligation to the water agency. 

“We are in danger of solvency with the water agency because of this $2 million deficit, and they do not have sufficient funds to make it up if need be, which would then bring it over to our General Fund. So the General Fund would have to make up for that, and we frankly cannot afford that,” said Scott. 

The $2 million deficit Scott alludes to is the amount Rialto Water Services is owed due to past-due accounts. 

Scott also proposed that the City set up a committee consisting of Rialto utilities and a person from Viola to review residents with legitimate economic hardship and find a way to assist them with their water bill. 

“There is always a way to assist someone. Unfortunately, a lot of the funding that we initially had available is no longer available; however, the low-income water assistance program is still available in Rialto,” continued Sebbag. 

Ultimately, the motion was carried out with the integration of a waiver where if delinquent residents pay their past due amount in full by a to-be-determined date in February, all late fees would be waived. 

Councilman Andy Carrizales also asked Sebbag if they could look into a small percentage discount for residents who begin to make payments on their delinquent account, which would significantly offset some of the $2 million owed. 

As of January 17th, 2023, Rialto Water Services offers water conservation tips, rebates, and an assistance program on its website.Learn more by visiting, rialtowater.com.