Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Metro Council delays water bill changes
Revising late fees, due dates could cost city millions By CHRISTINA E. SANCHEZ • Staff Writer (Tennessean) • October 8, 2008 Nashville water and sewer customers will not get more time to pay their bills — at least for now. Metro Councilman Sam Coleman introduced a measure in August that would have given water and sewer users a consistent due date on their bills each month. But the council delayed voting on the bill Tuesday amid concerns that changes would jeopardize $5 million in late fees that the city relies on to finance some water services. Instead, the council will wait for Mayor Karl Dean's office to put together a comprehensive water and sewer rate plan that considers consistent due dates and eliminating the flat $10 late fee, Coleman said. "We're entrusting that the two issues will be taken up," Coleman said Tuesday. "In the event that these two issues are not taken up, then we would bring the bill back." Customers currently have a 15-day minimum to pay their bills, but under the proposal would have at least 25 days. They also would get a set due date each month. Metro Water Services does not read all meters on the same day, leading to the different due dates. "For customers who are on a fixed income, they need to know every month when their bill is going to come due," Coleman said when the bill was first introduced. The legislation also changes the way the department assesses a fee on late payments. In place of the set $10 late fee, customers would pay 5 percent of their balance. For example, on a $100 bill the late fee would be $5. But Water Services relies heavily on the estimated $5 million a year in late fees it receives. The proposal could mean $2 million to $3 million less for the department's budget, said Councilwoman Emily Evans. "It would have a significant revenue impact on a budget that's already in serious shape," Evans has said. "How would we replace that revenue?"
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