• 95°

New city utility ordinance

keeps taxpayers in mind

Published Sept. 22, 1999

At its last meeting, the Troy City Council did a good thing by changing the utility ordinance.

Members voted unanimously to increase the late payment fees for city utility customers while giving citizens more time to pay their bills before power cut-off. These changes are part of ordinances 166 and 167.

We commend council members for their work and for being good stewards of taxpayers’ dollars. The city is doing a good job of balancing its needs with citizens’ financial concerns.

The council’s goal with these measures is to encourage customers to pay their electric and water bills on time. Another aim is to reward customers who do pay on time.

The city is trying to give its utility customers more of an incentive to pay on time. The incentive is avoiding late fees.

When people don’t pay on time, the city still has to use its funds to pay Alabama Power for the power residents use.

Through the ordinance, the city will give customers 12 more days to pay their bills before power is cut off than they currently have. The late fee increase is small.

According to Ordinance 166, monthly utility and water bills are due on the 10th of each month. Bills not paid by that time are delinquent. A minimum of $5 or five percent of the current month’s bill, whichever is higher, will be added to late electric bills. A minimum of $2 or five percent of the current month’s bill, whichever is higher, will be added to late water bills.

Delinquent notices will be sent on accounts not paid by the 20th of each month and a non-payment fee of $10 will be added to the bills.

If the bill is not paid by the third day of the following month, the city will cut off service for nonpayment. A $20 reconnection fee will be charged where utility service has been disconnected for nonpayment. A $5 reconnection fee will be charged where water service has been disconnected for nonpayment.

Currently, utilities are disconnected on the 20th of the month for nonpayment. Once the ordinance goes into effect in December, it will give people about 12 additional days to pay. This is helpful to those on fixed incomes, and to those who receive government assistance.

The ordinance also says charges for service calls will be $10 during the normal work week, day and night. Charges for service calls on weekends and holidays will be $75. A service call will be charged if the problem is on the load side of the customer’s meter or on the load side of the service entrance. The fee is due at the time of the service call or can be added to the customer’s bill.

Under the present rules, late bills have an extra $5 fee.

This is a very reasonable change. Utility rates in Troy are still less than many neighboring cities, according to an informal survey.

Although ordinances 166 and 167 have been passed, they will not go into effect until later this year. So there will be plenty of time for the city to notify its customers of the changes through local media outlets and personal letters.