SYRACUSE -- City officials will be more aggressive in addressing late utility bill payments, beginning this month.
Effective Jan. 25, city leaders will begin imposing a $10 fine on people whose utility bills are not paid within 10 days after the due date.
The late fee has been on the city's consolidated fee schedule, but until now has not been actively implemented.
Current numbers seem to indicate a need to address the problem. Approximately 9.3 percent of city utility users are currently at least one month past due in paying their bill, while another 4.1 percent are at least two months past due, Stephen Marshall, city budget director, said.
"People are waiting to pay until the last moment," Marshall said.
He estimated that with the current numbers, the late fee revenue would tally up to $107,160 per year.
Marshall and City Manager Robert Rice suggested the fee is not being enforced in an effort to raise revenue as much as it is to save the time and resources of city staff in tracking and collecting delinquent accounts.
Staff did a comparison of seven cities to see whether the $10 fee was too much or too little and found a range of fees from $3 in Clinton to $25 in Roy. They found the average penalty among the cities is $11.86.
As part of the effort to collect on past-due bills, there is also discussion about the steps staff will take to cut off utilities. Abusers will receive a notice, and if they don't respond to that notice in a timely fashion, their water will be cut off, with a $35 reconnection fee. The second offense will come with a $50 fee, Marshall said.
Rice said that in a perfect setup, all utility customers would be electronically billed and would be on a program for electronic withdrawal for payment. He said other major utilities in Utah have already gone to a paperless system.
City officials already have been actively promoting a move to an electronic means of billing and payment.
In a recent work session, Marshall said it costs the city 55 cents to generate and mail a utility bill, while moving to an electronic format could cost as little as 10 cents a bill.