Past due water bills in LaVergne could leave some high and dry - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Past due water bills in LaVergne could leave some customers high and dry

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LAVERGNE, TN (WSMV) -

One slip up in paying your bill could soon leave you without water in LaVergne. Thousands of dollars of past due water bills has forced the city to change its payment policy.

LaVergne meter reader Frank Camejo has to expect the unexpected each Wednesday.

"It's absolutely our busiest day," Camejo said.

Its cutoff Wednesday, and he and his fellow meter readers are out in force.

One-hundred-sixty-three disconnects were scheduled today, but thousands of other customers are past due on their water bills.

"In the past the city has been far too lenient," said Allison Wood, LaVergne Water Deptartment manager. "We've gone 30, 60, 90 days past due on accounts before residents were subject to disconnect."

Right now those customers are delinquent nearly $700,000; its money basically going down the drain. Money city officials said they could use for water line improvements.

"$700,000 is a lot of money where it could go towards things to better the city," Wood said.

Starting March 1, LaVergne is implementing a new policy. Customers only will be given a 15-day grace period after bills are due to pay up or their water will be cutoff.

"There are people out there who legitimately need the help and I'm willing to extend that help to them," Wood said. "But the reality is a lot of them are taking advantage of what we've done in the past and that is giving them enough time to pay the bill."

The city of LaVergne is averaging a little more than 100 cutoffs a week, totaling more than $40,000.

Water customer Edward Huey is in favor of the new policy.

"If I pay my bill on time everyone else should pay theirs on time," Huey said.

But he said he understands some people may not be able to pay on time every time.

"Some people are living in circumstances where they just can't afford it, but at the same time there are other people out there who can afford it and just don't pay it," Huey said.

The city is trying to get the word out about the changes by including inserts in the water bills, announcements on City TV 3, Facebook, and on the city's website.

We checked with other utility districts including Consolidated Utility District (CUD) which services customers in parts of Smyrna, Murfreesboro, and rural Rutherford County, and if your bill is more than 30 days past due it may be turned over to a collection agency.

Murfreesboro City Water Department has a similar disconnect policy; service will be disconnected the bill is more than $50 past due.

The Town of Smyrna also allows 20 days past the original due date before water service is disconnected, however the amount has to be over $25.

Last year Murfreesboro had about $100,000 in uncollected water bill payments. CUD averages about $160,000 a year.

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