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Defiance city officials won’t be shutting off water to a northside mobile home park after its owner made a sizeable payment on an outstanding debt and agreed to a payment arrangement.

A letter signed by city finance director John Lehner was sent to Defiance Partners LLC, St. Petersburg, Fla. — owner of the park at 844 N. Clinton St. (Northtowne Estates) — and noted that $41,462.82 was owed the city in water and sewer bills as of Oct. 31. The letter noted that the city would shut off water service to the park on Dec. 6 (today) if the debt wasn’t paid.

But the city reached an agreement with Defiance Partners, LLC, in which one third of the outstanding bill would be paid — a check for this was received in City Hall last week — and the owner would continue to pay monthly what is owed, in addition to its current bill. A normal monthly bill for the park is $2,000-$4,000, according to Lehner.

(The city provides the mobile home park with water, which is then distributed through service lines that are owned privately.)

“We offered them a proposed payment arrangement, and that was to kick off with one third of that outstanding balance to be paid up front, which they did,” said Lehner. “... they have lived up to the first part of that agreement to avoid the disconnection, so they’re not going to be shut off and the remainder of their balance is to be paid off over a several-month period. I would say they certainly have made a good-faith effort.”

But if the owner defaults on payment again, Lehner said the city will make no exceptions.

“There will be no leeway, and their next payment will be on Jan. 5 and then Feb. 5,” he explained. “Until that delinquent balance is paid we will hold them to fulfilling the commitment of the payment arrangement.”

Mayor Mike McCann was relieved the city did not have to shut off water to the park and its residents, who officials noted were not to blame for the payment problem.

“I’m very relieved,” said McCann. “The mayor’s happy and, hopefully, the community and Northtowne Estates residents are happy.”

As for the city’s threat to shut off water service, he said: “You can’t imagine the number of people that told me, ‘you can’t do that.’ I said we do it every week, somewhere. It’s not a fun part of my job, but I don’t know what else to do.”

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