johnstown, johnstownvillage, may, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews

Village officials says water shutoffs expensive, preventable

By DEBBIE GILLUMSunday May 31, 2015 2:15 PM
Johnstown Village officials said they have seen a recent increase in nonpayment of water service bills which are costly to the village.
They also said they believe the service shutoffs are preventable.
Village Service Director Jack Liggett said three village employees were required to shut off water services for 57 customers because of lack of payment. He said the shutoffs ate up 30 manhours.
Liggett explained in winter months water shutoffs were especially labor intensive because workers had to plow paths through snow in order to be able to access shut off valves.
“What I don’t understand is that within three hours of their water being shut off, they call us and suddenly have found the money,” Liggett said.
He said during most months the village performs about 45-55 water shutoffs. The village has 1,800 water-sewer service customers.
“I’ve even seen up to 80 shutoffs in a month,” Liggett said.
“I would love to see just 10-12 shutoffs each month,” he said. “In the end, it costs both the townspeople and the village quite a bit of money to do all of these shutoffs.”
Clerk of Council Teresa Monroe said processing paperwork for all 57 shutoffs in the month of April took her approximately 16 hours.
She explained it takes time and manpower to generate the delinquent reports, submit the termination work orders and calculate penalty costs.
A charge of $25 is issued for turning water service back on, in addition to a 10-percent penalty fee for late payment.
Monroe said if citizens call the utility billing office before the date when service will be shut off, the village is able to offer a seven-day grace period.
“A simple phone call to us could save folks $25 and the hassle of coming home to find there’s no water,” she said.
According to the village’s charter Section 921.10, persons requesting an extension can only do so six times in one calendar year.
The charter also states all bills are to be mailed out to residents by the 10th day of the month. Monroe said the village tries to send them by the third day of the month.
Customers whose bills are not paid on or before the 25th day of each month are sent a delinquent notice no later than the second Friday of the month following the bill due date.
If a water-sewer bill is not paid by the due date after receipt of the delinquent notice the service location is placed on a shutoff list.
Water service will only be turned on between 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. week days..
Upon approval of Village Manager Jim Lenner, if a customer requests water service be turned on outside of the designated hours, the customer will be required to pay the Utility Department an additional fee of $125 before service will be reconnected.
Water utility bills can be paid online, in cash or by check. The Utility Department billing office phone number is 740-967-5951.

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