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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

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Oregon Public Service Director Paul Roman wants city council to consider legislation to increase costs to those who do not pay their water bills.

“We are working on an ordinance to increase the penalty charge for nonpayment of water bills,” Roman said at a committee of the whole meeting on Monday. “For some time now, it’s one of the items I’ve wanted to do, but just didn’t have time. I’ve had time to catch up on things.”

The penalty charge to turn off water service is currently $16.

“It doesn’t come close to paying for the actual cost to turn off a water service, then turn it back on. I’ve done the calculation. It would be anywhere between $40 and $60. I’m asking to set it at $50. I have surveyed a couple other cities and what they use. It varies. I’ll provide that to council,” he said.

Transmitter switch
In addition, Roman wants to increase costs to water customers who will not schedule an installation of an Electronic Remote Transmitter (ERT) to read water meters.

“About eight years ago, we switched to ERTs, that’s how we get our water billing reads,” said Roman. “Years ago, it used to take two people two weeks to collect the water readings. Now it takes one person about four hours, and it’s a lot quicker and we save money. But there are still a couple of hundred households that simply will not schedule time for us to come in and switch out the meter and put in these Electronic Remote Transmitters. The City of Perrysburg had similar problems. They just switched over a couple of years ago. They have legislation they used to gain access. Basically, it’s giving the water division the right to shut water off until they can schedule something and get these ERTs installed.”

Manual readings
An option, he said, is to charge water customers who do not schedule the installation of ERTs a fee per quarter for manual readings.

“We can still go and make the manual read, but they are really inefficient. You’re using a remote meter on the outside of the building, they go bad, you’re using your human eyes to read it, where electronic is so automatic,” he said. “We really want to urge people to switch, and this is one way of doing that. The system would be a lot more efficient if we had everyone on it. The people who allow access are really subsidizing the people who won’t allow access. Just like on the water shutoff – people who pay their bills on time are subsidizing people who don’t. I don’t think it’s fair. I think it’s something we need to do to update our charges and make it fair and equitable for the entire utility.”

 

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