§ 34–2202.16. Charges and fees and rate setting.
(a) The Authority shall collect and abate charges, fees, assessments, and levies for services, facilities, or commodities furnished or supplied by it.
(b)(1) The Authority shall, following notice, public comment period, and public hearing, establish and adjust retail water and sewer rates. The District members of the Board shall establish the retail water and sewer rates prior to the Board’s consideration of the Authority’s budget. The water and sewer rates levied by the Authority shall only be a source of revenue for the maintenance of the District’s supply of water and sewage systems, and shall constitute a fund exclusively to defray any cost of the Authority.
(2) At a public hearing held pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection, the public shall be given a timely opportunity to present its views, as evidence of record, with at least 45 days' notice, with notice widely and publicly distributed in a form sufficiently detailed and complete to permit the public to realize its specific and affected interest.
(2A)(A) The Authority shall accept public comments on any establishment or adjustment of retail water and sewer rates from the date of publication of the notice of the proposed rulemaking to the date that is 5 days after the public hearing held pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection.
(B) No more than 15 days after the end of the public comment period described in subparagraph (A) of this paragraph, but before the Board committee with jurisdiction over the ratemaking process makes recommendations to the full Board for the final rate proposal, the Authority shall:
(i) Transmit to the Board a report responding to comments received during the public comment period; and
(ii) Publish the report on the Authority website in a manner accessible to the public.
(2B)(A) The Authority shall provide a method for the public to remotely attend and participate in public hearings held pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection.
(B) Notice required under paragraph (1) of this subsection shall include information on how the public may remotely attend and participate in the public hearing.
(3) If the Office of People's Counsel submits written comments related to the establishment or adjustment of water and sewer rates under this subsection, the Authority shall respond in writing why it accepted or rejected, in whole or in part, any recommendations submitted by the Office of the People's Counsel.
(b-1)(1) The Authority shall offer financial assistance programs to mitigate the impact of any increases in retail water and sewer rates and the impervious area charge on low-income residents of the District, including a low-impact design incentive program.
(2) Within 6 months of March 25, 2009, the authority shall provide a report to the Council of the District of Columbia detailing the number of low-income residents affected by increases in retail water and sewer rates and the impervious area charge and strategies that will significantly increase enrollment in existing discount programs available to low-income ratepayers.
(b-2) At least 45 days before the public hearing held pursuant to subsection (b)(1) of this section, the Authority shall transmit a copy of the Independent Review of the Proposed Rates Report and the Cost of Service study to the Mayor and the Council and publish both the report and study on the Authority's website in a manner accessible to the public.
(c) In the absence of applicable standards, charges shall be levied and collected as determined by the Authority in accordance with § 1-204.87(b).
(d) The Authority may impose additional charges and penalties for late payment of bills.
(d-1) The Authority shall collect a stormwater user fee established by the Director of the District Department of the Environment (“Director”), which charge the Director shall establish by rule and may from time to time amend.
(d-2) The fee shall be collected from each property in the District of Columbia, and shall be based on an impervious area assessment of the property.
(d-3) The Mayor shall coordinate the development and implementation of the MS4 stormwater user fee with DC WASA’s impervious area charge, to ensure that both fee systems employ consistent methodologies.”.
(d-4) The Mayor shall offer financial assistance programs to mitigate the impact of any increases in stormwater user fees on low-income residents of the District, and shall evaluate the applicability of similar existing District low-income assistance programs to the stormwater user fee.
(d-5) A landlord shall not pass a stormwater user fee charge to a tenant which is more than the stormwater user fee charge prescribed by the Director.
(d-6) The stormwater user fee shall be the obligation of the property owner. Failure to pay the stormwater user fee shall result in a lien being placed upon the property without further notice to the owner. The Mayor may enforce the lien in the same manner as in § 34-2407.02.
(d-7) Any owner or occupant of a property that is charged a stormwater user fee may contest a stormwater user fee bill rendered for managing stormwater runoff, according to the same procedures provided to owners or occupants of properties that receive water and sewer services, under § 34-2305.
(e) The Authority is authorized to shut off the water distribution to any building, establishment, or other place upon failure of the owner or occupant thereof to pay the charges, including the storm water fee, within 90 days from the date of rendition of the bill.
(f)(1) The Authority shall treat as timely challenges to a residential customers' bill made in writing and received by the Authority within 20 calendar days after the date the bill is rendered.
(2) If a residential customer's challenge to a bill is timely, the Authority shall suspend the residential customer's obligation to pay the disputed bill until the customer has received the result of the Authority's investigation of the challenge in writing.
(3) Where a residential customer contacts the Authority regarding billing in any manner other than in writing, the Authority shall inform the customer of the requirement that a challenge to a residential customer's bill must be made in writing and received within 20 calendar days after the date the bill is rendered to be considered timely.
(4) The Authority shall include on the front of a residential customers' bill the specific date by which a challenge under paragraph (1) of this section must be received by the Authority to be considered timely.
(g) The Authority shall include the following information on residential customers' bills and the Authority's website:
(1) A local customer assistance telephone number and e-mail address for the Authority, with the hours of operation noted; and
(2) The address and customer assistance telephone numbers for the Office of the People's Counsel.