Herald JournalWinsted-Lester Prairie Journal, June 10, 2002

Winsted late utility fees headed up

By Julie Yurek

Approximately 10 percent of Winsted residents are not paying their utility bill on time.

As a result, the utility late fee may rise from $5 to $15 or higher. The fee was lowered from $15 to $5 last year because the billing switched from quarterly to monthly, City Administrator Brent Mareck said.

City Clerk Betty Zachmann brought the issue to the council at Tuesday's city council meeting. "There are between 40 and 70 accounts that are not being paid," Zachmann said.

"The owner has 21 days after the 10th of the month to pay the bill. The maintenance department puts notices on the homes that Friday of the twenty-first day, and residents have until Monday to pay or their water will be shut off," she said.

"Another problem associated with this matter is the next month's bill arrives during that 21 day period, so owners don't realize that they have to pay the late bill, plus the one that just arrived," she said. "If the late fee is increased, maybe it will encourage payments to be on time."

If the water is shut off, the resident incurs a $15 reconnect fee, late fees, and any other fees that they may have on their account, Zachmann said.

Mayor Don Guggemos suggested shortening the 21-day waiting period to five or 10 days before shutting off the water, so that the next's month bill doesn't arrive during the waiting period.

Guggemos asked Mareck to research what time span other communities have before shutting water off on delinquent accounts.

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