MOUNT VERNON — Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis and the staff at the water/wastewater office are looking for ways to help residents make their payments and keep their water turned on.
City residents are required to pay their water bills every quarter. If a payment is past its due date, there is a 10 percent charge added to the bill. If it has not been paid by a certain time after the due date, a shut-off notice is hand-delivered by a staff member, giving the resident a final date the bill must be paid before it is turned off. If it is still not paid by that deadline, a city employee goes out to the residence and turns off the water.
This process costs the city money, and residents are charged a fee at each step. There is a $10 charge for the shut-off notice to be delivered; a $40 charge is added when the water is turned off. All of these charges, along with the original fee, must be paid before the water is turned on again.
The billing cycle is staggered, so one-third (approximately 2,200 customers) of the city pays each month. Mavis said approximately 8 percent (183 customers) did not pay their bills for December, and are under consideration for being shut off. Those customers’ bills amounted to $25,652.33 the city was unable to collect this month.
That has led Mavis to come up with a plan he is going to submit soon to the water commission. He would like the city to work with those who are habitually late with their payments in a way that would help the resident and the city. Under his plan, residents would be able to pay a portion of their bill each month.
“My goal is to go to the water commission and put in a policy that if they don’t pay their bills, they need to work ahead to pay in increments so they would not get to the shutoff situation. We don’t want, and it’s not our goal, to turn people’s water off,” Mavis said. “If they can make a provision to pay each month, we can avoid some of these issues.”
In other news:
•Mavis said the Public Works Commission District 17 agreed to recommend the city’s project for approval at the state level. The $1 million project will include work on the intersection of Edgewood Drive and Ohio 229, and other paving projects around the city.
•Mavis said the city council’s budget meeting will be Tuesday at 6 p.m. Council will discuss the budget and decide on the projects and other items proposed by the different departments.
•Prior to Monday’s council meeting, the street committee will meet with members of the Greater Downtown Management Council to hear their proposal on parking in the downtown area. Expected to be proposed are four-hour parking spots on South Mulberry Street from Vine Street to the Kokosing River, and on South Gay Street from Howard Street to Chestnut Street. The committee will also be considering the parking area on the northwest corner of Vine and Mulberry streets.
•The water park will ask council Monday for permission to go out for bids on a project that will add a large frog water slide and fountains to the baby pool at Hiawatha Water Park/Pool.