Social Circle to review water bill policy

SOCIAL CIRCLE -- The Social Circle City Council is considering amending its policies governing when it will shut off water to residents who have not paid their bills.

The council agreed during its monthly meeting Nov. 17 to review its policy after city resident Svetlana Lewis complained her water service was cut off even though she paid her past-due bill earlier that day.

Lewis said she paid her past-due bill Nov. 16, but service was still terminated.

"I still had to pay the fee on the cutoff," Lewis said. "If I can't afford to pay my bill, how am I going to be able to pay an extra $40?"

According to City Clerk Susan Roper, the city mails out water bills the first week of the month, but not later than the 7th. For the 30-day billing period ending in October, Roper said bills unpaid by Oct. 27 were considered late and a 10-percent late fee was added on Oct. 28. She said a bill that had a past-due balance was subject to cutoff on Nov. 16.

"We printed a message on the front of the bill that said (bill payers) had until Friday, Nov. 13, at 4:30 p.m. to avoid cutoff," Roper said in an e-mail response to questions.

Lewis told the City Council that she was unable to pay her past-due account by the 4:30 p.m. Nov. 13 deadline, but she did pay first thing the following Monday morning. Despite the fact she paid before water crews physically made it to her house to cut off water, her service was disconnected.

Roper explained to Lewis that once a resident's name is on the cut-off list, it is subject to the administrative fees, which are $20 to cut off service and $20 to reestablish it.

Some City Council members, however, seemed to understand Ms. Lewis' frustration, and Councilwoman Anne Peppers suggested the council review its policy.