A governing body has the power and duty, by ordinance, to establish and maintain just and equitable rates, fees, or charges for the use of and the service rendered by:
(a) Sewerage works, to be paid by the owner of each lot, parcel of real estate or building that is connected with and uses the works by or through any part of the sewerage system of the municipality or that in any way uses or is served by the works; and
(b) Stormwater works, to be paid by the owner of each lot, parcel of real estate or building that in any way uses or is served by the stormwater works or whose property is improved or protected by the stormwater works or any user of such stormwater works.
(c) The governing body may change and readjust the rates, fees, or charges from time to time. However, no rates, fees, or charges for stormwater services may be assessed against highways, road and drainage easements or stormwater facilities constructed, owned or operated by the West Virginia Division of Highways.
(d) All new applicants for service shall indicate to the governing body whether they are an owner or tenant with respect to the service location. An entity providing stormwater service shall provide a tenant a report of the stormwater fee charged for the entire property and, if appropriate, that portion of the fee to be assessed to the tenant.
(e) The governing body may collect from all new applicants for service a deposit of $50 or two twelfths of the average annual usage of the applicant’s specific customer class, whichever is greater, to secure the payment of service rates, fees, and charges in the event they become delinquent as provided in this section. In any case where a deposit is forfeited to pay service rates, fees, and charges which were delinquent at the time of disconnection or termination of service, service may not be reconnected or reinstated by the governing body until another deposit equal to $50 or a sum equal to two twelfths of the average usage for the applicant’s specific customer class, whichever is greater, is remitted to the governing body. After 12 months of prompt payment history, the governing body shall return the deposit to the customer or credit the customer’s account with interest at a rate as the Public Service Commission may prescribe: Provided, That where the customer is a tenant, the governing body is not required to return the deposit until the time the tenant discontinues service with the governing body. Whenever any rates, fees, rentals, or charges for services or facilities furnished remain unpaid for a period of 20 days after they become due, the user of the services and facilities provided is delinquent. The user is liable until all rates, fees, and charges are fully paid. The governing body may, under reasonable rules promulgated by the Public Service Commission, shut off and discontinue water services to a delinquent user of sewer facilities 10 days after the sewer services become delinquent regardless of whether the governing body utilizes the security deposit to satisfy any delinquent payments: Provided, however, That nothing contained within the rules of the Public Service Commission may require agents or employees of the governing body to accept payment at the customer’s premises in lieu of discontinuing service for a delinquent bill.
(f) The rates, fees, or charges shall be sufficient in each year for the payment of the proper and reasonable expense of operation, repair, replacements and maintenance of the works and for the payment of the sums herein required to be paid into the sinking fund. Revenues collected pursuant to this section shall be considered the revenues of the works.
(g) No such rates, fees, or charges may be established until after a public hearing, at which all the users of the works and owners of property served or to be served thereby and others interested shall have an opportunity to be heard concerning the proposed rates, fees or charges.
(h) After introduction of the ordinance fixing the rates, fees or charges, and before the same is finally enacted, notice of the hearing, setting forth the proposed schedule of rates, fees or charges, shall be given by publication as a Class I legal advertisement in compliance with §59-3-1 et seq. of this code and the publication area for the publication shall be the municipality. The first publication shall be made at least five days before the date fixed in the notice for the hearing.
(i) After the hearing, which may be adjourned, from time to time, the ordinance establishing rates, fees or charges, either as originally introduced or as modified and amended, shall be passed and put into effect. A copy of the schedule of the rates, fees, and charges shall be kept on file in the office of the board having charge of the operation of the works, and also in the office of the clerk of the municipality, and shall be open to inspection by all parties interested. The rates, fees, or charges established for any class of users or property served shall be extended to cover any additional premises thereafter served which fall within the same class, without the necessity of any hearing or notice.
(j) Any change or readjustment of the rates, fees, or charges may be made in the same manner as the rates, fees, or charges were originally established as hereinbefore provided: Provided, That if a change or readjustment be made substantially pro rata, as to all classes of service, no hearing or notice shall be required. The aggregate of the rates, fees, or charges shall always be sufficient for the expense of operation, repair and maintenance and for the sinking fund payments.
(k) All rates, fees, or charges, if not paid when due, shall constitute a lien upon the premises served by the works. If any service rate, fee, or charge is not paid within 20 days after it is due, the amount thereof, together with a penalty of 10 percent and a reasonable attorney’s fee, may be recovered by the board in a civil action in the name of the municipality. The lien may be foreclosed against the lot, parcel of land or building in accordance with the laws relating thereto. Where both water and sewer services are furnished by any municipality to any premises, the schedule of charges may be billed as a single amount or individually itemized and billed for the aggregate thereof.
(l) Whenever any rates, rentals, fees or charges for services or facilities furnished shall remain unpaid for a period of 20 days after they become due, the property and the owner thereof, as well as the user of the services and facilities shall be delinquent until such time as all rates, fees, and charges are fully paid. When any payment for rates, rentals, fees or charges becomes delinquent, the governing body may use the security deposit to satisfy the delinquent payment.
(m) The board collecting the rates, fees, or charges shall be obligated under reasonable rules to shut off and discontinue both water and sewer services to all delinquent users of water, sewer or stormwater facilities and shall not restore either water facilities or sewer facilities to any delinquent user of any such facilities until all delinquent rates, fees, or charges for water, sewer, and stormwater facilities, including reasonable interest and penalty charges, have been paid in full, as long as the actions are not contrary to any rules or orders of the Public Service Commission: Provided, That nothing contained within the rules of the Public Service Commission may be considered to require any agents or employees of the municipality or governing body to accept payment at the customer’s premises in lieu of discontinuing service for a delinquent bill.