On their minds was a concern posed by Luckie Atkinson, who was on the night's agenda under Citizen's Request.
"I'm wondering why it is that you guys want to make me responsible for someone else's bills," Atkinson said, citing ordinances that date to 2008 holding owners of properties responsible for utility bills not paid by their tenants.
"If I call and ask if Jane Doe paid her bill on my property, you'll tell me it's none of my business. If I want to shut it off, you'll tell me I can't. Yet if she were to leave, I've got to pay her bill because it's my house. You can't have it both ways," he continued. "You're making it my business when you say I'm responsible for someone else's bills because it's my house. I believe this is a a bad policy and it's wrong. The person who turned it on is responsible for that bill, not me. Yet you all want to hold my property hostage. I contacted (Illinois Attorney General) Lisa Madigan and she said that being an owner of real estate, I've gotta make sure they have water, sewer and electricity or that it's available. So if I don't pay a past tenant's bill based on your findings, then I can't rent my property. That's wrong."
Atkinson noted that often times the tenant with unpaid bills just goes to another rental property and because "I paid it for them, they have no outstanding balance. This can go on and on. That's wrong. There's a problem — you need to go to the person that's responsible, not the landowner. How can the homeowner be ultimately responsible when it's none of my business?
"I pay my taxes, my mortgages, my bills, and I pay them on time. I feel I'm responsible to do that, that's my job, I don't ask you to do that. Why are you asking me to pay somebody else's?" he asked.
In light of the concerns, an Ordinance Committee meeting has been scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday in the the council chambers at Metropolis City Hall.
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