MENTONE — The town of Mentone is taking steps to thwart what it says has been a history of delinquency when it comes to residents paying water bills on time.
“It’s been chronic, people just never pay on time,” said Town Board President Jill Gross. “It’s getting worse, too, it seems like,” said Board Member Tim Croy. “The majority of the people in town are renters and when you’ve got, like Barb (Town Clerk-Treasurer Barbara Ross) says, 40 people per month, the next thing you know the renters have moved out and you don’t know where they went. The home owners don’t know where they are and there we are with unpaid balances.”
Ross told the board that the town collects between $11,000 and $13,000 each year just in late fees.
The board approved a plan that tightens restrictions in hopes of reining in rampant tardiness. The town reads the meters on the 25th of each month and water bills are issued on the first of the following month. The due date for payment is the 15th of the month. If not paid, water will be shut off at the end of the month.
In addition, the town will no longer send out disconnect notices, and re-connect fees were raised to $35. There will also be other fees associated with late payments that will be charged when residents come in to pay their bills. Ross told the board that the average monthly bill in Mentone is $100. Any payment made after the 15th of the month is subject to a 10 percent late fee.
Ross told the board that residents were given two months to pay their bills previously.
The new rules will go into effect beginning with the next bill issued.
In other business, the board:
- Heard a report from Water Superintendent Joshua Shepherd that hydrants would be flushed throughout the town on Oct. 9.
- Reported that leaf pickup would begin as the leaves start to fall. The leaves need to be raked to the curb and not into the street.
- Heard a report from Town Marshal James Eads that a search is beginning for a new reserve officer. Interested applicants can receive an application at the town hall.
- Scheduled an executive session with Eads for Oct. 22 to discuss personnel matters.
- Heard a report that Halloween trick or treat will be held in the town on Oct. 31 from 5:30 to 7 p.m.