Ordinance revises Municipal Code to set billing procedures, rates for water, sewer

The Oakland Board of Mayor and Aldermen unanimously passed an ordinance on final reading last week that establishes billing procedures and rates for water and sewer.
Board members took the action Thursday night during their regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Karl Chambless and seconded by Alderman John Troncone.
The ordinance was passed unanimously on first reading at the board’s Jan. 15 meeting.
It states that the billing procedures, rates, penalties and surcharges set by Title 18, Chapter 1 of the Municipal Code have not been reviewed by the board for many years.
Section 1 of the new ordinance requires the town to mail water, sewer and solid waste bills by the first of each month. The “standard net payment period” for all customers has been changed from the 10th to the 15th day of the month.
Customers who do not pay their bills by the close of business on the 15th will incur a 10-percent late-penalty charge.
They will be issued a written final notice that includes the delinquent amount, the right to a hearing, the date that services are subject to termination and the amount of the automatic service fee that will accrue on unpaid accounts at the close of business on the 25th of the month.
For customers who do not pay their bills by that time, the process of terminating the service will begin, and a $30 automatic service fee will be incurred on all balances of more than $10.
Any balance at or under the established termination-of-service minimum will not incur the service fee or be subject to termination of services.
Payments have to actually be received at the Town Hall by the close of business on the established dates.
Those not received in full by the 25th of the month, including the 10-percent penalty, will automatically accrue the $30 service fee, and services will be immediately terminated.
Customers have to allow 48-hour processing of online payments before the town will consider those funds actually received.
Security box payments will be removed and registered at the beginning and close of business each day.
If the due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or a town holiday, net payment will be accepted in the security box as “timely paid” up to the beginning of the next business day.
The town recorder is authorized to approve a three-month extension for payment upon a customer’s written request and his attendance at the specified hearing prior to the 25th of the month. To receive an extension, the customer is required to have “justifiable cause” and no prior service fees for nonpayment in the previous 12 months.
The customer must pay 50 percent of the current bill. The remaining 50 percent will be divided into two installments during the two months immediately after the month for which the customer obtained an extension.
During the extension period, all current billing must be paid, in addition to the amounts approved in the extension agreement. Late penalties will accrue on all delinquent amounts, but the service fee will not apply if the current billing and extension agreement are maintained.
The mayor must subsequently approve the extension agreement. The board will have to approve requests for an extension of four months or longer.
Customers requiring “temporary services” must pay all costs for connection and disconnection, in addition to the $50 regular charge for water and/or sewer service.
Minimum irrigation meter billing will be set at $10.
Upon request, a customer’s meter will be re-read at no charge if the initial reading is found to be inaccurate. But a $15 charge will be assessed if the initial reading is found to be accurate.
Any customer’s unpaid bill accrued at a prior address will be added to the bill for his current address.
Services will not be terminated on the day immediately preceding when the Town Hall or the Water and Sewer Department are scheduled to be closed.
The fee to restore service after business hours is $50.
Customers who “destroy, disable or otherwise damage” a water meter box lock will be charged a $10 replacement fee and a $20 fee for a concrete meter box lid.