Past due payments owed city irk Dover officials

 

DOVER — Officials are hoping to find more effective ways to reduce the amount of past due money owed the city by residents for utility services.

The item was discussed during Tuesday night’s Legislative, Finance and Administration Committee meeting.

The city collects payments within 21 days of the bill date, said city manager Scott Koenig.

“We’re working to get our customers to pay within that 21 day window,” Mr. Koenig said.

He said the utility service is billed after customers have used the utility, making it a bill that is currently due.

“I think that’s where the misunderstanding comes from,” Mr. Koenig said. “It’s not just mailing the bill to us. If you drop your payment in the mail it might not get to us a few days later.

“The bill still hasn’t been paid within the time frame even though you thought you mailed the bill,’ he added.

He said the same goes for customers who use automatic payments from their banks.

“The bank issues a paper draft, which with some banks it may take a few days for that to happen.

“Customers may think that the bill is already paid, as that seems to be the miscommunication between us and our customers.”

Mr. Koenig said all bills must be paid in full by 5 p.m. on date to avoid customers from being disconnected.

Councilman William Hare said he had quite a few calls about electric cutoffs from residents.

“I’ve been paying my electric bill in the city of Dover for over 40 years and I’ve never been late,” Councilman Hare said.

“I get my bill this past January and it has a due date of the 11th and I got it on the 18th,” he added.

“If I were to wait five to six days and mail that to Wilmington and it got there on the 1st and they got it later after I sent it then my electric would have got shut off.”

“In a sense I really only had 12 days to pay the bill and I never missed an electric bill for over 40 years and I can get shut off,” he said. “I just don’t think that’s fair.”

Mr. Koenig agreed and said they’re trying to find ways to get customers to pay the bill as soon as they can.

“The goal is to collect 100 percent of the revenue due in the period that they’re due,” Mr. Koenig said.

“In that 21 days we would like to collect it. It prevents us from dedicating resources to creating a cut list and it creates a much more sufficient business environment for us.”

Mr. Koenig said he hopes to promote the information a little better down the line.

Councilman Fred Neil agreed and offered a few suggestions as well.

“If we can have something on that bill that says if you use the mailman make sure you mail it seven days ahead of time so it will get to us, that would be great,” Mr. Neil said.

“I think you have to have an attention getter to remind people how important it is to have the money in a timely manner,” he said.

“We can’t afford to have money out there in delinquent fees and if we can find a way to convey that message I think it will help.”

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