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Sallal Water Association may rescind membership

Members of the Sallal Water Association approved a bylaw change Monday that gives the utility the ability to rescind a membership when a member won't pay fees or continually tampers with the water system.

The bylaw change was approved 97-7 at a March 31 annual meeting of the association, held at its office in North Bend.

The Sallal Water Association currently has 1,560 members, including 1,424 households, 26 businesses, two schools, Opstad Elementary and Twin Falls Middle School, and one wholesale member that serves 633 customers.

"We serve more water than the city of NorthBend," said Paul Tredway, business manager for the association.

A new membership in the association costs $7,956. Water users pay monthly rates, and members who are part of the system but don't use water pay a non-user fee of $13 per month.

Members of the association received a ballot in the mail, which included two uncontested trustee candidates, Andy Velebir and Gerry Prior, and a decision to adopt changes to the association's articles of incorporation, meeting federal and state standards. Ballots were due on Monday, and opened at the evening meeting. The changes to the articles of incorporation also passed, 97-7.

The bylaw change "shouldn't be anything scary to members," Tredway said. "We can explain that very easily to them. No one has to worry, unless they refuse to pay the fee or do something that would damage our system on purpose.

"There are only two reasons why we would rescind a membership," Tredway said. First, if a member who is not hooked up to water deliberately did not pay his non-user fees, his membership can be rescinded. Such a rescinding decision would take a long time, until the late fees equal the cost of the membership. For new memberships, it could take decades before the late fees added up to the membership cost.

Such a rescinding wouldn't apply to water users. If users fall three months behind in payments, the utility can simply shut off their water until payment happens.

The association could also rescind "if someone deliberately tried to sabotage our system," Tredway said. "The first thing we do is turn of his water and fine him, but if that doesn't work," his membership can be revoked.

The association sought the power to rescind memberships because of a single incident. A member who does not use water is no longer paying his non-user fees, and was unable to develop due to county setbacks, according to Tredway.

"For all intents and purposes, this guy is walking away from his property," Tredway said. "All efforts to contact him have been ignored.

"All we want is to reserve the right to take [the membership] back," he added. "There is no way we can do that without following due process of law, which takes time. We're still going to follow the law of the land."

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