Bedford aims to clarify sewer payments
Thursday, May 23, 2013 11:00 AM
Commissioners hope to decrease confusion over Bedford's sewer payments with a new amendment that will go into effect this summer.
The Bedford City Commission worked on the amendment that will increase sewer deposits to $150 for turning on services in an attempt to recoup some of the money lost to customers who chose not to pay for their services. Commissioners also chose to do away with payment arrangements under the new amended ordinance.
Commissioners and the city's attorney Genon Hensley came to the agreement after discussing the correct way to deal with overdue billing that causes issues for Bedford City Hall each month during a special meeting Wednesday. Mayor Russell Clifton said he wanted to see something in writing that everyone could agree on and would not deviate from during the collection process.
"We have an ordinance, but apparently we have two or three ordinances," Clifton said. "I want something solid."
Clifton noted several customers would reference earlier ordinances when trying to make late payments or protest a sewer disconnect.
"The public doesn't even understand the policy," Clifton said.
Hensley recommended all previous ordinances pertaining to sewer billing be cleared up with an amendment to all ordinances dating to the original ordinance in 1981. She also suggested handing out copies of the new ordinance once it's approved so that everyone will know of the changes.
After reviewing several ordinances and amendments from 1997, 1998 and 2008, commissioners agreed to amend the language from the most recent 2008 ordinance, which the city had been following.
Commissioners agreed to increase the deposit for sewer services from $100 to $150, which will be payable in two installments. The first $75 of the deposit will be due prior to connection. The second portion of the deposit will be included on the customer's first sewer bill.
Commissioners also adjusted language about delinquent bills and notifying customers in the amended ordinance. Bills not paid by the close of business on the 10th day of the month are delinquent, commissioners said, and a notice will be sent on the 11th or the next business day. A $5 service fee will also be added to the bill if not paid by the close of business on the 10th day of the month.
To prevent disconnection of sewer services, the payment must be made in full before the close of business of the 20th day of the month. Services will be shut off on the 21st day of the month, and customers must pay bills in full before the city will allow a reconnection to the city's services.
A $25 return check fee and the $110 reconnect fee will remain in place under the new ordinance as well, deputy clerk Rita Davis said after the meeting.
Commissioners held the first reading of the ordinance Wednesday. The commission plans to hold a second reading during the regular meeting in June.