Thorsby Council approves increase in water bill late fee

Published 5:30 pm Tuesday, August 5, 2014

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Thorsby’s Town Council discussed water rates and late fees at its regular meeting Monday.

The council approved an increase in the amount customers would owe if they were late with their monthly payment but tabled a decision about increasing the rate the town charges for water usage.

The fee charged for late payments was increased from 8.5 percent of the billed amount to a flat fee of $10.

Town clerk Crystal Smith said about $750 in late fees was collected in July. If the new $10 fee had been in place, the amount collected would have been more than $2,000, she said.

Smith also told council members that most municipalities in Chilton County charge a $10 late fee, and that Thorsby’s fee hadn’t been changed since 2007.

The increased fee will take effect with the September billing cycle.

Payments are due on the 10th of each month, unless that date falls on a weekend, in which case customers are given through the following Monday to submit payment.

Council members voted unanimously to change the late fee but were less decided about increasing the town’s rate for water usage.

Smith said a 25-cent increase in the rate for residential and commercial customers could produce an additional $140,000 per year in revenue, but council members were hesitant to impose such an increase.

Councilman Marvin Crumpton said he thought a rate hike would be viewed unfavorably by residents and business owners, while Councilman Glenn Littleton asked Smith if she could determine how much additional revenue a 15-cent increase would produce.

Thorsby residents pay $14 for the first 2,000 gallons of water used, and $7 per thousand gallons for the next 2,000 gallons. There are a range of rates, all the way up to $2.80 per thousand gallons for the usage of more than 52,000 gallons.

The proposed rate increase would add 25 cents onto the rate for each level of both residential and commercial water usage, while the minimum charges would remain the same.

The council approved another measure that should produce additional revenue for the town: increasing the tax on tobacco products from 3 cents to 5 cents per package.

Smith said most municipalities in Alabama have a 5-cent tobacco tax.

Smith asked if the council could make the increase effective Oct. 1, to allow time to prepare for the change.

In other business, the council:

•Declared recently acquired property off Cleveland Street as surplus, so that Mayor Jean Nelson can list the property as being for sale.

•Approved the purchase of advertising space in the Thorsby High School yearbook and football program. The council decided to purchase the same amount of space as it did in last year’s publications.

•Allowed the use of Helen Jenkins Chapel for a fundraiser to benefit Thorsby School.

•Discussed a concern about lighting on a portion South Dakota Avenue, at the intersection with Jenkins Street. Council members said street lights in the area aren’t any further apart than they are in other areas in town, but did ask Public Works Director Terry Jackson to cut limbs hanging near the street light that block the light.

•Approved minutes from the July 21 meeting, as well as paying bills with the necessary transfer of funds.