MOUNT VERNON — Pam Muralt, administrator of billing and customer service for the city’s water and wastewater department, spoke with council during a Utilities Committee meeting prior to the start of the regular council meeting.
Muralt said there are 6,758 water and wastewater customers and 822 wastewater only customers. In 2009, revenue totaled just under $6 million. Through September, $4.6 million has been collected this year.
“We should see an increase this year,” Muralt said over last year’s revenue.
The department takes every step possible to collect fees from non-paying customers including tax liens, collections, small claims and shut-offs for nonpayment, Muralt said.
The largest portion of non-pay customers comes from the wastewater only customers, most of whom live in Clinton Township. Muralt said the threat of having water service shut off is always a push for customers to pay their past due bills. However, without the ability to shut off wastewater service, those customers feel less of an urgency to pay.
Unfortunately, nonpayment by Clinton Township residents means a drop in fees collected for the township’s water district, Muralt added.
She spent several minutes explaining the meter reading process and the technology used to collect usage data for billing purposes.
There are five routes in the city with auto readers installed. Readings can be made by downloading the routes onto a laptop computer and data can be gathered by simply driving through the route.
“Readings just pop into the laptop,” Muralt said. “This works well especially for places that are hard to read like hills and places with difficulty parking.”
Although Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis has discussed the possibility of monthly billing in order to ease the financial burden for some customers, Muralt voiced her stance on changing the city’s billing from quarterly to monthly.
“I don’t want to do monthly billing ever,” Muralt said. “We have good cash flow. We bill one-third of the city each month. I am happy with the way it is.”
Muralt oversees four clerks, a meter foreman and two meter readers.
Judy Scott, administrator of treatment and distribution of the Water and Wastewater Department, will address council in the fourth of a series of department head presentations on Oct. 25.