Moscow will not collect overdue utility bills in the amount of $143,054 in order to provide relief to utility customers who perhaps suffered financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Moscow City Council on Monday night declared past-due utility bills for billing periods prior to the March 2021 billing cycle as uncollectible and authorized a return to assessing late fees and water shut-off practices when necessary. The city suspended past-due utility billing collection practices, including assessing of late fees and water shut-off procedures in April 2020 in response to the pandemic.
“I think it helps people who really suffered during the pandemic time,” said Councilor Maureen Laflin, who noted that the amount of time it would take city staff to try to collect the money from individuals would be a waste of the city’s time.
Councilor Sandra Kelly acknowledged those who made their utility payments during the pandemic despite the financial hardships.
The city implemented new financial software and in February, the council approved implementation of a revised utility billing procedure that placed the responsibility for payment of utility bills on the property owner being served by the utility. The procedure took effect for the March billing cycle.
In addition to providing financial relief to some utility customers, the council’s decision Monday also separated utility bills incurred prior to the revised utility billing procedure, according to a memo from City Supervisor Gary Riedner to Mayor Bill Lambert and the City Council.
Of the $143,054, 61.5 percent was from residential customers, 29.8 percent was from commercial customers, 6.7 percent was from multi-family customers and 2 percent was from sewer-only customers.
Riedner said the $143,054 was less than the city had anticipated. In other words, Riedner said customers did a great job at making payments. He said he did not know exactly how much of the $143,054 was incurred during the pandemic and how much was before.
Riedner said the money will be offset by fiscal 2021 revenues.
In other business, the council:
n Amended city code to address the city’s management reorganization. The council passed a resolution in 2019 that created a new management model that resulted in one city supervisor position and three deputy city supervisors instead of one city supervisor.
The restructure was implemented to aid the city supervisor in providing effective oversight of the city’s operations.
“From my perspective, it has worked very well,” Riedner said of the reorganization. “I’m seeing greater efficiencies in these groups and in these divisions.”
n Confirmed Bill Belknap, deputy city supervisor of community planning and design, as city supervisor starting Jan. 7 when Riedner retires. Belknap has worked for the city for almost 19 years in various roles…
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