Delinquent water bills have become less of a problem in Point Marion, dropping significantly from up to $60,000 in back due payments, officials said.
Councilwoman Julia Casteel said the borough’s past due balance as of May 21 was $7,737.
“If we billed for $80,000 a month, we still were outstanding for $50,000, $60,000 between cycles,” Casteel said. “The numbers are getting better. People are paying their water bills.”
When the borough manager resigned in the fall, Casteel said the past due balance ran between $40,000-$50,000.
“A lot of previous debt was written off without borough council approval. We no longer write off water bills,” Casteel said. “If you owe, you pay.”
Casteel said the borough manager was letting “many people” run bills up to thousands of dollars and businesses up to tens of thousands of dollars.
“It just puts into perspective what was out there that we didn’t have because people weren’t paying their bills,” Council President Jason Ganoe said at the borough’s most recent meeting.
Borough regulations make landlords responsible if their tenants don’t keep up on water, sewer and solid waste bills, officials said. Ganoe said when a tenant got behind on a water bill, the landlord should have been notified, but that wasn’t being done.
Jim Delansky said that the borough’s water billing situation is negatively impacting his motel business.
“(T)he tenants know we’re responsible for the bills, and the tenants abuse it,” Delansky said.
Delansky argued in favor of the billing system in areas of Greene County where he has rental properties. There, when he gets a past due notice in the mail from water companies, he calls the tenant and lets that person know they need to bring the bill current. If it happens more than twice, Delansky said, the tenant is evicted.
“That’s what I’m asking for, is if you guys would consider something like that,” Delansky said.
According to the water and sewage regulations that the borough adopted in October, each dwelling unit within a house, in a double house, in a row of connecting houses, in a trailer or in an apartment building are to be billed as separate entities. Any office, store, motel, restaurant or other establishment are billed as a separate entity, even if they’re located in a house with one or more residential units which are also being billed.
Where more than one dwelling unit is served by a single meter, a separate minimum charge for each additional user is added to the charges for the metered user’s bill.