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JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) -- Jeffersonville leaders plan to discontinue the practice of releasing names of people not paying their sewage bills. Instead, the city will simply shut off the water service.
That's according to Elisha Dale, Jeffersonville's Utility Billing Manager. Dale said sewer customers who are more than 60 days past due owing more than $100 will have their service cut off.
"It is legal, we have the right to shut off the water service for non payment," Dale said.
The city is owed $1.9 million and Dale said publicizing the names of the ten most delinquent accounts generated $160,000. WDRB talked to Luann Varner about being on the delinquent list in September. She said then, "I wish they would have taken into consideration my hardships."
When enough neighbors like Varner complained that the city was trying to embarrass its residents, this new idea emerged. Even if a customer's water bill is current, if your sewer bill is behind, Jeffersonville will shut off service to the delinquent customer.
Clark County Health Department Environmental Supervisor Scott Wilson said, "I would not like to see it because not only is there a possibility of people not being able to maintain their homes. It could cause a health issue and it also creates a whole lot more work for our department."
Sewer maintenance work is driving the crackdown on problem payers. New sewer lines are going in throughout the city because the federal government mandated a major sewer upgrade in Jeffersonville due to environmental violations. Customers could see their bills go up 300 percent by the year 2015. Dale said, "I want to get a hold on it before it gets out of hand because with the rates going up approximately 300 percent then more people will really be delinquent."
Dale says there are about 4,000 customers who a seriously past due. She said, "If someone brings in just ten dollars. that's attempt to pay a debt and we would collect that and everything would fine."
Jeffersonville is finalizing a contract with the Indiana Water Corporation to handle the cut offs. The city council plans to take up a new ordinance on the issue at its Nov. 4 meeting. Dale said plans are to start cutting off water service in December.