Columbus water customers face quick cutoff

Published 1:05 pm Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Because 11 days after this month&39;s due date is a Saturday (Feb. 21), customers have until next Friday, Feb. 20 at 5 p.m. to pay the water bill. The town&bsp; will begin cutting off unpaid customers on Monday morning, Feb. 23.

Before imposing the new policy in December, the town&bsp; considered making landlords of rental property pay renters&squo; water bills. Many renters were late or not paying water bills, town officials said. The town&squo;s previous policy gave customers about 40 days to pay their bills, which caused the town to lose money when renters left the property and never paid.

After holding a public hearing on the landlord payment proposal, the town decided to send out notices that all customers will be given 11 days to pay their bills and if the bills are not paid, water service will be terminated.

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If a customer&39;s water is cut off in Columbus, there will be a $75 reconnect fee.

Town officials say they are expecting to have to cut off many customers, possibly 100 or more, because of payments regularly being overdue in the past. One rental property with continuous problems officials named last year was Ashley Meadows.

The town lost approximately $10,000 over the last four years because of delinquent rental property water bills and recently lost $3,500 more in water revenue in eight months.

When a customer first requests water service from Columbus, the town requires a $175 deposit for renters and a $75 deposit for persons owning their homes. If a customer&squo;s water is cut off this month, the standing deposit will still be valid, but the $75 reconnect fee will be charged to return service.

The bill due today will be the first time the town is trying its new policy. Town council said it will review the new policy this spring to see if it is solving the problem.