Saluda’s new water policy whittles down past due accounts

Published 11:00 pm Friday, June 12, 2015


By Leah Justice

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Saluda approved a new water bill policy last month and reported on progress during its June 8 meeting.

Water/sewer commissioner Lynn Cass said as a result of a card stating the new policy sent out, the city now has 27 new customers participating in direct draft from their bank accounts for their utility bills, which is a 20 percent increase. The city now has 148 customers participating in direct bank drafts.

At one point Saluda had as much as $47,000 in past due accounts with Cass reporting the current delinquent amount as a little over $7,000. Cass added that of the $7,000, one person is responsible for $2,000 of the total amount.

“We’ve been as much as $47,000 (in delinquent accounts) two years ago,” Cass said, “so we’re whittling it down.”

The notice sent out to customers received criticism from resident Ellen Rogers during citizen comments. Rogers said she was surprised to receive the bright green paper stating the new policy, which had “no warm and fuzzy on it.”

Rogers said during council’s last meeting there was great discussion on how the city could take a more friendly approach on folks not able to pay their water bill so she was surprised to receive a non-friendly notice.

Rogers also questioned the notice stating the bill is due 25 days after the bill is postmarked, but the monthly bill is not postmarked.

The city clerk clarified that the monthly bill includes a late bill date.

Cass said the intent of the card was to let customers know there was a new policy approved last month and the city thought the bright green card would be more noticeable than white paper.

Cass said the city has 85 total past due accounts, but 52 of those owe less than $25 with 36 of those 52 being less than $10. Cass said there are only four accounts up for collection, with 27 accounts incurring late fees and six were due for cutoff as of Tuesday, June 9.

Commissioners approved the new policy in May to give customers more time to pay prior to the service being disconnected. In May, the past due amount was $9,800 and if the previous policy had been enforced, 64 customers would have been disconnected the next day.

The old policy, adopted in 2013, included that all accounts past due would be disconnected 15 days after the account became past due. Bills were formerly due on the 25th of the month and service disconnected 15 days following.

The new policy states that bills are due 25 days after the postmarked date of the bill and on the 26th day a $25 late fee will be charged. After the second bill is late, disconnection orders will be given and a $100 fee will be applied to the bill. If the customer is home when the worker arrives to disconnect service, the customer will be informed of the disconnection and advised how to reconnect service. If no one is home during disconnection, the worker will leave notice of disconnect with instructions on how the customer can reconnect.

Any customer disconnected will also be charged a $100 reconnection fee to restore the service. The entire account balance, plus the reconnection fee is required to be paid in full before the city will restore the service.