The cost of being late with Commerce utility payments is about to go up substantially.
On the agenda for the city council’s meeting next Monday night at 6:00 at the Commerce Civic Center is a proposal to reduce the city’s cost for dealing with those whose late payments cause their power or gas to be cut off.
On average, city workers cut off utilities to 120 people a month for failure to pay their bills. When the customers pay up — plus a reconnection fee — crews go out and turn the utilities back on.
Finance director James Wascher calculated that the city collects $18,000 a year in such fees, but spends $29,500 a year to restore utilities.
To recoup the full amount, the council is prepared to vote next Monday to increase the reconnection fee to $50 (from $15) for customers inside the city limits, to $75 (from $35) for those living outside the city limits, and to raise the after-hours fee to $125 (from $35).
“We are seeing a lot of repeats,” advised city manager Pete Pyrzenski. “People ride it until the last day… The city is losing money.”
“That’s surprising to me,” said mayor pro tem Keith Burchett in regard to the number of cutoffs. “I wouldn’t have thought there would be that many.”
“Hopefully, this will be a little bit of deterrent,” Pyrzenski commented. “We hope to change some behavior, but we’re not trying to punish anyone.”
In addition, the council is expected to approve the elimination of delinquent payment notices for utility customers on all three billing cycles. That will save the city almost $5,000 a year for an average of 1,100 reminder notices monthly.
For the full story, see the March 12 edition of The Commerce News.