York mulls new water cutoff policy

news@enquirerherald.comJanuary 6, 2013 

— Residents who have city water service disconnected due to a delinquent water bill would have to pay the bill before getting their service restored, if the York City Council changes its policy.

Council members have preliminary approved the change. A second vote, probably at the council’s Feb. 5 meeting, is required before the change would take place.

City Manager Charles Helms said the city disconnects about 100 to 125 water customers each month due to nonpayment of a bill. He said the city does not cut off water on Fridays, or on the day before any holiday.

However, Helms said that under the current procedure, customers can call the city’s after-hours answering service after 5 p.m. on the day the water is disconnected and an on-call public works employee will come out and reconnect the water. Under the exiting policy a $25 fee is charged.

He said under the current policy, the on-call public works employee will instruct the customer to contact city hall about whether their bill has been paid. He said the public works employees who make such calls don’t have information about whether the bill has been paid.

Helms said some people don’t follow up and contact the city to pay their bill. In some cases, he said, public works employees have made as many as four to six visits to a home where water has been disconnected due to a delinquent bill.

The need for the change “is just to be more efficient with the personnel we have,” Helms said. “It costs so much money to run people back and forth” to connect water that’s been disconnected because the will was not paid.

Under the proposed measure, any water bill not paid by 5 p.m. on the 20th day of the month will result in the service being disconnected. When the bill is paid, service will be restored, not before 8 a.m. on the following day. A $25 administrative fee will be added to the bill.

Helms said if the 20th falls on Friday, or on the day before a holiday, the disconnection will take place on the next business day.

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