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Skips on water bills sizable

 

Posted 3/15/16 (Tue)

By Cecile Wehrman
Tioga consumers have left unpaid about $150,000 in residential water bills, according to information discussed by the city commission last week.
The increasing amount of bad debt and “skips” by people who leave town without settling bills first arose in February.
Monday last week, City Auditor Abby Salinas told the city the balance of closed and unpaid water accounts amounts to about $150,000, dating back to 2002.
“Some of the people who are on that list are still in the community,” said Mayor Drake McClelland and should pay up.
The balance outstanding, he said, is also reduced by credits the city can’t issue because they don’t have contact information for people who overpaid. Either way, “It’s a lot of money to just write off.”
Salinas said in many cases, records are incomplete. Prior to 2005, accounts only have the address noted, not names.
“I’m just trying to clean up stuff,” Salinas told commissioners, but it is difficult without adequate information.
Commissioners discussed with the city attorney the possibility of developing a deposit or administration fee -- something that would leave money to cover the final bill if a consumer skips out without paying.
They also plan to look into assessing the outstanding amounts against the properties where the water was used.
“Unfortunately, the landowner is responsible,” said McClelland, whether or not they used the water.