Como Water

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 23, 2012

Como: time to pay up, water moochers

By John Howell Sr.

Como water users will see changes in policies and rate structure in coming months as town officials try to locate customers who are receiving municipal water but who have not been billed for it.

During a special call meeting Monday evening, the mayor and aldermen asked municipal clerk Kara Killebrew to organize and categorize water users who are not presently in the town’s billing system for water and sewer use.

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“I think I found about 50 meters that weren’t listed; I think there are another 50 in this town,” said Alderman Bill Mitchell who recently accompanied Como’s meter reader on his rounds. “We’re losing a lot of revenue,” he said.

Mitchell said that meter reading has followed a master list that does not identify many meters.  

“It’s a small town, everybody knows everybody. Aunt so-and-so is 90 years old, we don’t want to charge her a water bill, but we’ve got to somehow get everybody on these accounts,” Mitchell continued, offering a rationale for the absence of some of water users from the meter reading list.

Kara Killebrew told the mayor and aldermen about other experiences in town hall that indicate problems. After leaving doorknob notices at homes with water meters where the town has no record of the water customer information, “I’ve gotten several calls. There are some people that said they have been there seven years and never got a bill; they’ve been there three months and never got a bill,” she said.
Killebrew took the job as town clerk in October.

Other problems include accounts that were discovered to have been billed at the minimum rate for months. When the meter was read, water usage had far exceeded the minimum, generating a monthly bill that reflects a number of months’ overage. One bill totaled over $900, she said.

Killebrew asked the mayor and aldermen for a consistent policy for repayment of past water usage that would be over the 10 percent late charge for water bill payment.

Other water issues include:

• Establishing a connection fee instead of asking for “deposits;”

• Problems with correct billings when many houses don’t have street numbers posted;

• Water users who cut off locks placed on meters for nonpayment.

• Consistent application of late fees when water bills are paid late. The clerk said that the current month’s late fees totaled $1,800.

Alderman Ruby Higgenbottom attended the special call meeting along with Mitchell, Ruhl and Mayor Hill.

Other discussions Monday night included making a request for an extension from Panola County on renewing the town’s solid waste disposal contract. They also voted unanimously to pay $18,843.22 in claims, approving a $2,500 transfer into the general fund to cover amount. The next regular meeting for the Como mayor and board of aldermen will be Tuesday, Dec. 11.