DeKALB – The city is looking to cut down on the number of notices it sends to residents who are late paying their water bill.
Bryan Faivre, assistant director of public works for water, told the DeKalb City Council on Monday that eliminating third notices of water service termination will save the city time and money. The current procedures are so cumbersome that residents can have five-and-a-half months of water service before a shutoff.
“We’re trying to streamline that process,” Faivre said. “Ultimately, our goal is to try to put us possibly in a position to do ... bimonthly billing.”
The City Council will have the first vote on the issue at its next meeting.
Faivre said the proposal would reduce the billing cycle to five months. The second notice mailed out will also be the notice for service termination, which would occur 10 business days later.
Public Works Director T.J. Moore pointed out that Commonwealth Edison and Nicor Gas have similar policies. Both companies mail out delinquent notices after the bill due date, and termination of service can occur any time afterward.
Penalties also would change in the proposal. The city currently issues water bills on the first of the month with payment due by the 21st. Bills unpaid after then are assessed a 5 percent penalty and a late-payment notice is sent.
Under the original proposal, the 5 percent penalty would be increased to 10 percent, but the council voted to raise the penalty to 15 percent. Because the third notice would be eliminated, residents would not have to pay the $25 penalty that comes with it.
Faivre said the city hand-delivers 230 third notices every month, and it shuts off services to 20 to 30 customers after that. Third Ward Alderwoman Kristen Lash said she was apprehensive about removing the third notice because it seems to work.
“Too many things happen with mail,” Lash said. “The wrong person checks it, they put it on the wrong table in the house. The water bill gets lost in the mail, and you never get it.”