Overdue Sewer Bills Threatening Water Service for St. Joseph Customers

By Alan Van Zandt | avanzandt@kq2.com

Published 08/13 2014 09:44PM

Updated 08/13 2014 10:56PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.)  The City of St. Joseph is going to drastic means to go after those who aren't paying their sewer bills.

"Those well over 60 days get a 30 day termination notice," said Judy Hovey, Associate Director of Revenue and Finance for the city.

For the second time since the city took over sewer billing from Missouri American Water nearly two years ago, they are about to shut off water service of delinquent customers.

"The second group of 50 was due by noon today (Wednesday)," she said. "Out of those 25 service orders were created by Missouri American for us, and those will start tomorrow."

A previous batch of 50 disconnects netted some compliance. Still 17 customers had their service shut off. Ten of those eventually paid their bill and got reconnected.

The latest round of terminations has brought in around $25,000 in overdue payments. That's just a drop in the bucket of the more than $1.4 million that is more than 60 days overdue.

"You have to pay in full cash or credit card by that due date and time or they get reported to Missouri American and request a disconnect," Hovey said.

The city has tried to make payment more convenient for customers.

"We've got web payments and we've got grocery stores accepting payments and things like that where we didn't use to have that," Hovey said. "We also didn't take credit cards."

Those who get their water shut off could soon face other problems. Their homes could get red-tagged.

"It's uninhabitable," said Steve Hofferber, Director of Inspections and Code Enforcement for the city. "You need to have water to have proper sanitation facilities to be able to wash and use the bathroom."

The average sewer bill runs around $50 per month. Any bill that goes overdue is subject to a ten percent late fee.

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