West Valley Water District Waives Late Fees During State Of Emergency, Temporarily Lifts Hiring Freeze To Increase Financial Accountability

RIALTO, CA – The West Valley Water District (WVWD) Board of Directors approved a resolution waiving late fees for water services during the local state of emergency due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

WVWD Board President Channing Hawkins said, “We know many families and small businesses throughout our community that are experiencing challenges. This measure waiving  late fees is a good start and I look forward to additional efforts that will help people make it through these difficult times. Whether we’re waiving fees or adding critical staff, we’re going to continue to do all that we can to ensure that we can provide the best and fairest services for ratepayers.”

The board-approved resolution extends waiving of late fees and the halting of disconnections of water services by the Water District until the state of emergency is lifted or until a separate action is taken by the WVWD Board of Directors. The resolution also specifies that customers shall not be required to show proof of financial hardship.

WVWD was one of the first public or private water systems in California to voluntarily suspend water disconnections for nonpayment and did so prior to Governor Gavin Newsom’s executive order (N-42-20) to do so. The executive order, issued on April 2 2020, restricts water shutoffs to home and small businesses for the duration of California’s COVID-19 declared state of emergency. Most importantly, although the order applies a moratorium on water shutoffs due to nonpayment, the order does in no way change the legal obligation for ratepayers to pay for their water services in full.

In light of California’s 2,418 percent increase in weekly unemployment claims for the period ending April 4 2020 compared to the same time last year and WVWD’s continued drive to increase financial accountability, the board also approved the partial lifting of its hiring freeze to fill a vacant accountant position. The accountant position will be responsible for financial record keeping and auditing of ratepayer funds and will report to the chief financial officer. The accountant will also maintain the Water District’s ledgers, prepare journal entries, reconcile accounts, process monthly disbursements and deposits and prepare financial reports for annual audits.

Earlier this year, the WVWD Board of Directors approved a temporary hiring freeze of personnel to reevaluate recruitment and hiring practices. Since this freeze, the Water District hired an interim human resources manager and transferred all recruitment, transfers, salary increases and performance evaluation powers to the human resources department. The action to temporarily lift the hiring freeze and hire a new accountant demonstrates the organization’s commitment towards increasing financial accountability of ratepayer funds by the WVWD Board of Directors. The decision also displays the board’s full confidence in the interim human resources manager and his ability to adhere to protocol and secure qualified employees for open positions.

The Water District remains closed to the public during the state of emergency but customer service representatives are available by phone to assist with ratepayer questions and concerns. For more information or questions regarding WVWD services and COVID-19 response, please call (909) 875-1804 or email customerservice@wvwd.org.  

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