A. Prior to five (5) days before the date of termination of water service for nonpayment of the amount shown on a water bill or on a notice of termination issued under section 12-6-4 of this chapter, a customer may dispute the correctness of all or part of the amount shown in accordance with the provisions of this section. A customer shall not be entitled to dispute the correctness of all or part of the amount if all or part of the amount was the subject of a previous dispute under this section.
B. The procedure for customer dispute shall be as follows:
1. Prior to five (5) days before the date of termination, the customer shall notify the finance director, in writing, that the customer disputes all or part of the amount shown on the water bill or a notice of termination, stating as completely as possible the basis for the dispute.
2. If the finance director determines that the present dispute is untimely or that the customer previously disputed the correctness of all or part of the amount shown, the finance director shall mail to the customer a notice of rejection stating that the present dispute is untimely or invalid. The town shall then proceed as if the customer had not notified the town of the present dispute.
3. If the town determines that the present dispute is not untimely or invalid under this section, the town, within five (5) business days after receipt of the customer's notice, shall arrange a formal hearing before the town manager or his designee (the hearing official).
4. The formal hearing before the hearing official shall be held within ten (10) days of the town's receipt of the customer's written request.
5. At the hearing, the town and the customer shall be entitled to present all evidence that is, in the hearing official's view, relevant and material to the dispute, and to examine and cross examine witnesses. A tape recorded or, at the option of the town or the customer, a stenographic record of the hearing shall be maintained.
6. Based on the record established at the hearing, the hearing official, within five (5) days of completion of the hearing, shall issue a written decision formally resolving the dispute. Such decision shall be final and binding upon the town and the customer.
C. Utilization of the dispute procedure set forth in this section shall not relieve a customer of the obligation to pay, timely and completely, all other water charges and the undisputed portion of the amount which is the subject of the present dispute. Notwithstanding subsection D of this section, failure to pay, timely and completely, all such undisputed amounts shall subject the customer to termination of water service in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
D. Until the date of the hearing officer's decision, the town shall not terminate the water service of the customer and shall not issue a notice of termination to the customer solely for nonpayment of the disputed amount. If it is determined that the customer must pay some or all of the disputed amount, the town shall mail to the customer a notice of termination which contains the information required by subsection 12-6-4C of this chapter.