Utility shutoffs began this week for more than a dozen Genoa residents who have fallen behind on payments.
“This is never a good time for anybody - the residents, the girls in the billing office, me and the guys who have to go out there and shut utilities off. It’s the toughest part of our jobs,” said Village Administrator Kevin Gladden.
Village council was forewarned at its Monday meeting. Gladden cautioned them they might receive some telephone calls in the aftermath of shutoffs.
The village provides electric, sewer, water and refuse collection for residents. Customers are sent one bill.
Of the 1,400 customers on the village ledger, village crews are dealing with 16 this week, most of whom are repeat offenders.
“We send out individual letters. We try to work with them,” Gladden said. “But we had some shutoffs. Some of these are chronic offenders.”
The policy gives utility users 45 days to pay their bills. There is the 30-day billing cycle and another 15 days afterward.
Delinquencies are reviewed on a quarterly basis. The village has to physically go to a site to shut off some utilities like water and sewer service when payments fall behind.
To turn service back on, the customer has to pay the bill in full or work out a payment agreement. But several customers in this batch of delinquents have already defaulted on previous payment agreements, Gladden said.
“We don’t do anybody any favors by letting them get any further behind,” the administrator said.
Some customers react harshly to the shutoffs, blaming office staff and the crews sent to the house for shutoff duty. “They tell them ‘You don’t care about our kids,’ ” Gladden said. “But they are just doing their jobs.”
Office staff also tries to help by recommending social services and other agencies that help area residents cope with overdue bills.
“Trouble is a lot of those agencies are running out of money, too. It’s still pretty tough out there,” Gladden said, regarding the economy’s impact on family finances.