Tryon $99k behind on delinquent water bills

Published 4:24pm Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Council looks at new policy

Tryon water customers have put the town approximately $99,000 in the hole with delinquent payments.

Tryon Town Council met Tuesday, Oct. 16 and reviewed its current policy and decided to come up with a new policy in order to keep people up to date.

Tryon Town Manager Caitlin Martin said the town currently cuts water service off to customers who haven’t paid after a month, but the town has been lenient concerning allowing customers to pay what they can toward delinquent bills.

“We now have people $1,000 and $2,000 behind on their water bills,” Martin said.

Commissioner George Baker said the town has a lot of people on fixed incomes and now they are in the hole and that’s the town’s fault because they have let customers get there.

He suggested coming up with a percentage required for delinquent bills and to enforce the 30-day payment going forward.

Tryon Mayor Alan Peoples said he agreed and doesn’t want to cut people’s water off. He suggested having Martin come up with a policy that is fair and equitable.

Martin said the $99,000 balance includes both active accounts and inactive accounts and she has sent letters to people who are 90 days or more late on their bills. She said she is also sending letters to customers who are 60 and 30 days late.

Martin also said there are currently 153 inactive accounts and that 90 customers have come in and paid in full last month.

Tryon’s current ordinance states that, “Service will be discontinued to all customers who become one month delinquent in paying their accounts. A notification will be printed on all water bills that service will be discontinued seven days after the due date. When the cutoff day falls on any day the Town Hall is not open, the cut off day will be the next day of operation. To reconnect the service, the customer must pay $35 reconnect fee plus all unpaid bills.”

“We need to figure something out because it’s a disservice to the people who are paying,” said commissioner Wim Woody.

The Town of Columbus found itself in similar circumstances in 2008 and enacted a new policy that requires full payment within 11 days of the bill being due or the water service is cut off.

Columbus’ new policy followed a problem collecting rental property water bills after the renters vacated the property.

Columbus’ water bills are due on the 10th of every month and beginning on the 11th of the month the town charges a 10-percent penalty. The town cuts off water service if the bill is not paid in full by the 21st of the month, or the Monday following if that day falls on a weekend or holiday. Columbus charges a $75 reconnect fee to turn the water service back on.

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