City adopts utility billing, collection changes

Published 9:23 am Friday, November 29, 2013

FRANKLIN—The city has been working for a year on streamlining and updating the billing and collection policies for utility services. On Monday night, council unanimously adopted the changes with one tweak.

“We hope to improve the process and timing, so people do not get in the situation where they get behind on their bills and can’t catch up,” said City Manager Randy Martin. “It’s been a community concern over the past few years.”

The one tweak to the proposed changes was removing the requirement for considering a person’s credit score when it came to the deposit. After looking, the city couldn’t find a community with a similar policy.

Otherwise, they were passed unanimously as presented, with councilors Greg McLemore and Don Blythe absent.

The change will eliminate a $20 meter fee required to have any type of service installed.

A $10 administration fee will be implemented for each type of service installed, be it electric, water and sewer, or garbage.

A late payment fee of $15 on accounts not paid by the due date will be added. The 1.5 percent or $2 penalty will still apply, whichever is greater.

It eliminates the $50 administrative fee for names appearing on the cut-off list.

A $75 reconnection fee on accounts disconnected as a result of non-payment will be implemented.

On accounts reconnected after hours, from 4 to 8 p.m., a $25 fee will be added.

In regard to deposits, it eliminates two deposit types, one for electric and one for other energy sources. There will now be a single $450 deposit.

There is a $100 deposit for water and sewer accounts only.

It eliminates payment of deposit in two installments. Deposits must be paid in full prior to service installation.

It revises two deposit requirements. Deposits will be required on existing accounts if disconnected once in a 12-month period. Deposits will also be required on accounts where two insufficient checks have been presented for payment.

For new accounts, deposits will be refunded after five years on all new accounts in good standing.

For existing accounts, effective Jan. 1, no deposit refunds will be permissible under the current policy. Existing customers will be eligible for a refund after a five-year period if the account is in good standing.

Deposits on inactive accounts will be applied to the final bill and returned to the customer if no other funds are owed to the city.

No interest will be applied to deposits returned.

Other policy changes include reducing the number of extensions granted.

One extension granted beyond the 10 days permitted for paying late and the subsequent cut-off notice in a calendar year period.

It eliminates the medical condition policy.

Reconnections after 8 p.m. are eliminated.

A $50 administrative second trip charge for reconnection of any utility is added.

Most of the changes will be effective Jan. 1. Billing changes will be effective for January’s billing period, due Feb. 20.