ShareThis Page

Derry to crack down on delinquent water service accounts

| Tuesday, March 26, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The Derry municipal authority last week approved two new policies to increase tap-in fees and crack down on delinquent accounts.

Manager Rich Thomas said water and sewer service to any customer with a bill overdue more than $250 or 90 days delinquent will be shut off.

As a part of the policy, payment plan agreements no longer will be negotiated, he said.

“It's not fair to the 95 percent of good, paying customers out there,” Thomas said.

A problem arose when customers who agreed to payment plans still made only partial payments, he said.

Beginning May 1, the authority plans to slowly phase out the plans and enforce the stricter shut-off policy.

Keeping up with delinquent accounts disrupts other work of authority employees, which costs time and money, he said.

The system, which serves about 2,500 customers, has had an increase in long-term delinquencies rise 20 percent in the last three or four years, numbering in the hundreds, Thomas said.

Rate increases will also help fund regular system maintenance and upgrades as well as a new billing system, he said.

The new system will allow the authority to send out more up-to-date bills that will include a field for messages, allowing for better communication.

“We're trying to catch up with technology,” he said.

Tap-in rates for new customers were increased. Residential size, or 34-inch pipe, tap-ins will increase from $1,254 to $1,500.

Commercial-size, or 1-inch pipe, tap-ins will increase from $1,694 to $2,100.

For industrial-size tap-ins: 2-inch pipe connections will increase from $3,000 to $4,000; 4-inch pipe connections from $4,500 to $6,000; 6-inch pipe connections from $8,000 to $10,000; and 8-inch pipe connections from $9,500 to $12,000.

Each tap-in fee will include an additional cost of installation, which previously was a fixed rate but now will fluctuate with the cost of materials.

Rates had not been raised for a number of years but needed to reflect those increasing costs, Thomas said.

“We hadn't raised it for a number of years,” said Thomas, who was not sure exactly when the last increase was levied. “With the cost of materials going up, we didn't have anything left to put in the bank.”

About six tap-ins were added to the system last year. Thomas expects about six residential tap-ins and at least one industrial tap-in this year.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or sfederoff@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.