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City wants to increase late fee for delinquent utility bills
MONROE - If you’ve been making it a habit of paying your utility bill late, now would be the time to change your ways.
The late fee for delinquent accounts is about to increase. Finance director Dianne Nelson said she hopes for the new fees to become effective June 1. Late fees vary depending on the amount of the delinquent account.
“There are about 300 problem accounts” who consistently pay their bills late, Nelson said at last week’s City Council meeting.
The city says these delinquent accounts are labor-intensive and costly for the city and that “it’s unfair for these costs to be borne by the customers who make the effort to pay their bill on time every month.”
“It’s no surprise that this bill is coming,” Nelson said. “That’s who we’re trying to address here, the people that always have an excuse.”
The city hopes the late fee increase will discourage late payments. Of the city’s 5,500 utility accounts, approximately 900 shut off warnings are sent out and 100 accounts are shut off each month.
Customers experiencing temporary financial hardships can set up payment plans to help settle outstanding bills, Nelson said. Once a payment plan is set up, any late fees are waived, she said.
“This is an attempt by the city to say that we have issues that are impacting staff’s time which ultimately impact the cost to residents,” Mayor Robert Zimmerman said at the meeting. “The end goal is to see a significant drop in our late payments, not to generate more revenue.”
The City Council will vote on the fee increase this week.

 

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