Lake Norman & Mooresville

Policy on utility deposits relaxed in Statesville

On the heels of the city’s first residential electric rate cut in 10 years, the Statesville City Council has approved an additional policy change that will permit new customers with good credit to avoid paying a two-month deposit in order to get service turned on.

Previously, all new customers were required to pay an average of two months bills, which they would get back after a year if payments were made on time.

Nonresidential customers who do not have a good credit rating may also purchase a surety bond to avoid the deposit. The two-month average deposit for customers who are not eligible for a deposit waiver, through either a good credit rating or surety bond, will remain in effect.

The vote to change the city policy, taken at the city council’s Aug. 17 meeting, was 7-1. Councilman Roy West voted against the new policy, claiming it doesn’t go far enough.

“I know we will now waive the deposit for those with good credit,” West said, “but I still feel some citizens with no credit record are going to suffer under the city’s policy.”

He was especially critical of the manner in which the city deals with businesses seeking service. “For example, back in 2014, Mocaro Industries sold their business and closed their dye plant. They were probably one of the city’s best customers. Then they needed to turn the power back on at the dye plant and were forced to pay a $7,000 deposit.”

West also says he gets complaints from Realtors about exorbitant deposits.

However, city officials defended the business-customer deposit policy for those without good credit. “A survey of other entities demonstrates that our policy is in line with Energy United and Duke Power, both of which require a two-month average deposit,” said interim Finance Director Gene Triplett.

About 80 percent of electric customers in Statesville are served by the city; the other 20 percent are served by Duke Power or Energy United.

Also at the Aug. 17 meeting, a decision on a request to rezone an 0.85-acre parcel behind Black Buick on Salisbury Road was postponed. The owner, Myron Black, wants to erect a 4,700-square-foot addition for expansion of the service area. However, the zoning requested by the owner – Highway Business Conditional Use – if granted, would remove existing conditions that exist at that location.

After consulting with the city attorney, the council asked Black if he would consider a different zone for the building if the council postponed his request. He agreed and the matter was held over for future action.

Dave Vieser is a freelance writer: