Derry to crack down on delinquent water service accounts
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 3⁄4-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 firstname.lastname@example.org.