11/13/08 — Pikeville ups deposit for renters' electricity

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Pikeville ups deposit for renters' electricity

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on November 13, 2008 1:46 PM

PIKEVILLE -- Over the protests of a few local landlords, town officials doubled the amount renters must deposit for their electric bills this month.

Pikeville's auditor, John Anthony, said that although Pikeville is in good shape financially, the town has a small problem with bad debt.

And one of the primary sources of that debt, Anthony reported, is from transient renters who paid the town's $200 electrical deposit.

The town raised the electrical deposit for renters to $400 at its meeting this month.

Officials say some renters rack up electrical bills higher than the $200 deposit, then choose to move out and forfeit the deposit rather than pay their light bill.

And although the town sells electricity at a profit, the amount of profit is a part of its yearly budget and pays for town services and employees, Mayor Herbert Sieger said.

The mayor asked the few landlords who had gathered for a public hearing on raising the electricity bill deposit for renters what they asked for as a deposit.

"Is it not one month's rent?" Sieger asked of the landlords, most of whom murmured that it was. One said her rate was less than one month's rent.

"It seems like a month's rent, you rent an $800 house, it's $800, you rent a $300 house, it's $300," Sieger said. "We're entitled to be covered, too, so taxpayers are not paying (the electricity bills) of people who move in and move out."

But landlord Ginny Weeks said the rental market in Pikeville is not optimal, and she doesn't believe that renters will pay the new $400 electricity deposit.

"When these (renters) move out, there's not going to be anyone else that's going to move in at that cost," Ms. Weeks said. "So you're going to lose money either way."