The Loganville City Council voted Thursday to up the fees for reconnection if water is cut off for non -payment from $30 to $50 – and that’s if it is reconnected during business hours. If the bill is paid after hours online and a customer wants it reconnected immediately, it will cost an additional $125 for a total payment of $175. A receipt of full payment online must be shown in order to have the service turned back on.
Councilman Danny Ford did not attend the meeting, but the proposed hike in fees was approved by the other council members with just Councilwoman Lisa Newberry voting against it.
At the Monday work session when the matter was discussed, Councilman Ray Boland had expressed concern about the $125 after hours fee.
“It just seems high. If they haven’t paid it they are obviously having difficulty, so to then charge them $125…,” Boland said. He changed his mind, however, after Chris Yancy, director of utilities, explained that just last month it had cost the city $3,600 in overtime wages to pay for the 112 customers who were reconnected after hours.
“A loss of $3,600 every month is over $40,000 a year,” Councilman Skip Baliles noted. “Most other cities don’t even offer it. They can choose to wait the 12 hours to have it reconnected the following business day and not pay the extra $125.”
Gwinnett County also charges $125 for the after-hours reconnection, but the City of Monroe and Walton County do not reconnect after hours at all. The policy also does not apply to any resident who has a medical condition that requires access to water at all times. A list of those customers is kept at City Hall. Anyone who qualifies can contact City Hall to have their name added to the list.
Yancy said the estimated $3,600 was just the loss in revenue for his staff. He said it didn’t take into consideration the three ladies in the office who have to come in to process the disconnection notices and take payments for reconnection. The staff members from the water department then have to go out and disconnect the service and return to reconnect again once the bill has been paid. The city stopped sending out late notices a couple of years ago because it cost about $10,000 a year. Roberts said the money comes from the enterprise fund and not from the taxpayer base. The enterprise fund is not allowed to profit. However, if it loses money that would have to be covered somehow and that could impact taxpayers through the general fund.
Customers have until the 10th of the month to pay the bill, then a 10-day grace period until the 20th of the month unless it falls on a Friday, with a 10-percent penality. If not paid by the 20th, the disconnect instruction is activated and customers would have to pay the $50 reconnection fee, or $175 if they choose to have it reconnected after hours before the following day.
This new fee schedule becomes effictive Oct. 1, 2018.
The council also voted to allow a one-time purchase of 100 water meters at a cost of $22,500 to catch up on the backlog of water meters required for all the new construction in the city. They also voted to up the city manager’s spending authority on both chemicals and water meters to $12,500 to enable the department to keep up with the requirements in a timely manner. With so much new construction going on the city, it was proving difficult for the department to buy enough under the current spending authority to supply water meters for all the new homes.