Tryon approves new water bill policy

Published 10:00 pm Monday, December 1, 2014

by Leah Justice

Tryon utility customers have a new, stricter policy to abide by for paying delinquent water bills.

Tryon Town Council met Nov. 18 and approved amendments to its utility ordinance that includes $5 late fees after one day of being late, a $25 fee 10 days after the due date and disconnection by the 25th of the month.

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Tryon water bills are due on the 15th of each month.

Tryon council also approved the town contracting with DataMax, a debt collector to begin collecting inactive delinquent utility bills.

The new policy includes that any bill not paid by the 15th of the month will be considered past due and a late fee of $5 will be added to the bill as of the 16th of the month.

If the 15th and/or the 16th of the month falls on a day town hall is not open, the due date and past due date will be the next day of operation.

Customers with a bill 10 days past due will be given a $25 administration fee in addition to the billed amount. If the bill is not paid by the 25th of the month, the customer’s water will be automatically disconnected with no further notice at 9 a.m. on the 26th of the month. In order to reconnect service if it is disconnected, the customer must pay all unpaid fees and the delinquent bill plus a $35 reconnect fee. For all reconnections after 4 p.m., the customer will pay a $75 reconnect fee. The reconnection fees remain what the town charged previously.

Council also approved changes to the town’s payment agreement for customers who cannot pay the bill in full.

To enter into a payment agreement, a customer must come into town hall before their service is disconnected to request a payment agreement. The issuance and terms of which the payment agreement is approved are at the town manager’s discretion and must be signed by both the customer and the town manager.

Council changed the payment agreement to shorten the number of failure of payment the customer has before the agreement is cancelled and water service is disconnected. The new policy states after the customer’s second failure to comply with the terms of the payment agreement, the customer’s water will be automatically turned off with no further notice. The previous policy gave customers four failures to comply before service was disconnected.

All fees and delinquent bills must be paid in full before service will be reconnected.

Other changes to the new payment agreement policy, any existing balance owed to the town, the customer must pay a minimum of 10 percent of the past due balance as well as the current bill owed in order to enter a payment agreement, according to the town’s new policy.

Tryon council has been discussing past due water bills for a few years. During council’s October meeting, town manager Joey Davis said the town had 30-40 water payment agreements out of approximately 2,000 customers total. Davis also said of the customers on payment agreements, about half are frequently on agreements and half of customers get behind on their bills because of circumstances and get caught up.