Non-payment of water bills may not end in shut-offs |

Non-payment of water bills may not end in shut-offs

Jill Keller, Appeal Staff Writer

Customers who fail to pay their water bills may not face automatic shut-offs if a proposed ordinance is accepted by city supervisors Thursday. Instead, fines and payment would be collected with property taxes.

City Treasurer Al Kramer is proposing the change in fines to make it a little easier on property owners, some with children, who just can’t come up with the money, he said.

“Turning the water off always gets the money off, but it’s kind of a big hammer for something that always gets the money,” Kramer said. “We’re looking at a method that is more humane for residents. It’s a cash-flow problem more than anything else.”

In some cases, when the water is shut off for a family with children, social services can remove the children from the home, Kramer said.

The proposed plan would allow the city to penalize property owners with fees of 2.5 percent of the bill for every 27 days the bill is unpaid. Then the entire water bill plus charges could be attached to the property tax at the end of the year, Kramer said.

In the past, the city has placed liens on properties following the nonpayments. But many bills were too small for the district attorney to consider taking the matter to court, Kramer said.

Kramer estimates the number of owners who get to the point of fines and liens is only about 50 each year, he said.