WAUSAU — Come March 25, Wausau Town Council members want to stop the flow of city water — at least the water flow to the town's delinquent customers.
City Clerk Margaret Riley presented a report to the Town Council on Thursday showing that collection of past-due water bills has improved steadily over the past few months, but there is still quite a bit to be collected.
“We’ve gotten something from all of them,” Riley told the council members. “Every one of them has come in and made a payment, and we’ve got one on Monday that we’re cutting off.”
As of March 14, the city was still looking to collect $13,253.02 in late payments from Wausau water department customers. Of that amount, $7,443.25 is owed to the city on bills that are more than 90 days delinquent, Riley said.
The late paying customers became an issue for the city in July when the State Auditors noted the $25,000 deficit. Town Council members acted last summer to step up collection efforts.
According to Riley’s report, as of March 14 the town was owed $19,752.08 for water payments. Of that amount, $6,415.38 is the amount due in the current billing cycle.
“Let’s be sure we don’t let this happen again,” council member Dallas Carter said.
“Once we get this done, I say we have no more ‘hardship’ cases,” Mayor B.J.Phillips said, adding that in the past, the town has let people go without paying their water bill and without cutting off the service. “We don’t want any new accounts getting three months behind.”
Phillips said he wanted to see the water shut off in a more timely fashion. “If we say it’s due on the 27th, then come the 28th, I say we shut it off.”
Riley said she has been telling customers that if the bills weren’t paid by the 25th of the month, the water service was going to be discontinued that day.
“This is nothing we like to do, but we have to get this caught up and keep it that way,” Phillips said.
The council also heard a proposal from Chipley attorney Jeff Goodman to provide attorney services for the city. For $300 a month, Goodman offered to provide the city with one hour’s service and to attend one city council meeting a quarter.
“I want to be up front with you, I am also the attorney for Washington County, and if there were to be a case where the interests of the town conflicted with the county, then I would have to recommend you seek other representation,” Goodman said.
He noted that he is also the county attorney for Holmes County and the city attorney for Esto, and he had yet to encounter a legal conflict between the city and the county.
The council voted to table Goodman’s proposal until the next meeting so the council members could read Goodman’s service contract before voting on whether or not to accept his offer.
In other business, the council members also discussed the town’s policy of providing compensation time to employees who are called in on their days off.
The city policy states that comp time is provided on a 1-to-1 basis, Riley said. In other words, if an employee is called in to work for 45 minutes, then he receives 45 minutes of comp time.
The also tabled the compensation discussion until they could get a legal review of the city’s personnel policies by whoever is retained as the next city attorney.