Crackin’ down on water bills

BEAR CREEK  -  The town of Bear Creek is cracking down on delinquent water bills by stressing rules and guidelines that will be strictly enforced, including penalties and late fees.
Town Clerk Jamie Green stressed at a recent town council meeting that the town was having a major problem with customers being late on their water bills then complaining to the town when their service was discontinued.
Currently, the town is faced with 80 to 100 customers who are delinquent in  paying their water bills, with one customer at least four to five months behind with fees escalating to around $500, according to Green.
She explained that water bills are due on the 20th of the month. Late fees, depending on the amount of the bill, will be applied if the bill is not paid by the 21st.
Bills are considered delinquent on the 24th and are subject to be disconnected anytime after 12 p.m. on that date, Green pointed out.
“Due to all of the water leaks that we have had,  that’s been a priority to get that done,” said Green. “But now we’ve noticed a lot of delinquent bills.”
Starting today, Wednesday, Jan. 23, the town will begin the process of locking meters for those delinquent on their water bills, Green emphasized.
“We’ve locked meters in the past, but it’s been a few months since we have locked meters,” she said. “We are fixing to start locking once a month. We have got to get a handle on it and let people know.”
If a meter is locked, customers will pay a $60 reconnect fee plus the amount of their delinquent bill before their service can be reinstated, according to Green.
This applies until after 3 p.m. on a week day or weekends or holidays.  
If the customer needs their service continued, after 3 p.m. or during a weekend or holiday, they are required to pay an additional $25 cash  that goes to the employee that unlocks the meter, since that employee is coming out on his own time, town officials stressed.
“We’re sticking to it. We have no other choice,” stressed Bear Creek Mayor Tammie Batchelor. “That’s how we’ve been able to get the revenue back in here.
“People they have got to understand that Bear Creek, it is no different than any other town or city,” Mayor Batchelor added.
“You have to pay your water bill. That’s what keeps the town going. If you don’t pay, then you are not afforded that opportunity.”


See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.
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