By Rick Palsgrove
The city of Groveport is looking at ways to make it easier for its water customers to pay their bills.
According to Groveport City Administrator Marsha Hall, the city already offers Groveport water customers the ability to make pre-payment installments of bills and to pay their water bills online.
Additionally, Groveport City Council is considering legislation to allow the city’s water customers to sign an agreement to pay their bill, without late fees, over a three month period once every four billing cycles if the customer is facing a hardship.
“A hardship would be considered something of an emergency in nature,” said Hall. “It could be income issues, unforeseen large expenses…it’s situational.”
Hall said that, since the city is looking at ways to assist customers in paying their water bills, council is also considering an increase in the amount the city charges for water shut offs and tagging customers for water shut offs due to non-payment. The proposed increased charge for a trip to turn off water service for non-payment would rise from $30 to $50. The proposed increased charge for a trip to place a door hanger notifying a customer of non-payment would rise from $5 to $25.
Groveport Finance Director Jeff Green said there are approximately 1,200 customers on the Groveport water system. He said that, out of that number, the city only averages about “five or six, sometimes 10 to 12” water shut offs per quarter for non-payment.
Hall said city officials also considered other water bill options, such as a senior citizen discount or the removal of the minimum billing amount.
“However, either of these would require that we actually increase everyone’s bills in order to account for the reduced revenue based on our current operating balance and debt payment for the water plant,” said Hall.
She said 2017 has the last water rate increase of 3 percent adopted by council.
“After we know the annual operating costs of the new water plant and the estimated revenue after the 2017 rate increase, we will re-visit (our options),” said Hall.
Water capacity charges
Council is considering increasing the amount of water capacity charges Groveport receives for the portion of the charges the city retains for customers served by the Columbus water system.
According to Hall, water capacity charges are one time fees and are only required when either an undeveloped property requires new water and sewer service or when the size of a current tap has to be increased (the difference in size is what is charged).
“This revenue is not used for operations, rather for system improvements,” said Hall. “As the Columbus system ages it is imperative that we have adequate funds for these improvements.”
The water capacity charges for the Groveport water system will remain the same.