Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Utility Board urging customers in arrears to arrange payment plans now

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By KEVIN NEVERS

The Chesterton Utility Service Board is once again urging customers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and in arrears--not to put too fine a point on it, the Service Board is practically begging them--to contact the Utility Billing Office now and arrange a flexible payment plan.

Because eventually, and almost certainly before the end of the year, the Utility will be forced to shut off water service to customers who’ve made no move to pay on their outstanding balance.

As Superintendent Dave Ryan noted at Tuesday’s meeting, the utility shut-off moratorium ordered earlier this year by Gov. Holcomb expired on Aug. 14 and was not extended. The moratorium on the charging of late penalties will expire on Oct. 12. Indiana-American Water Company has indicated that it will begin shutting off service to its delinquent customers on Nov. 3. And NIPSCO will likely begin shutting off service to its own delinquent customers later in November.

To date, 1,158 Utility accounts are overdue, Ryan noted, totaling $96,000.

Ryan did say that the most recent billing statement included a message to customers in arrears, advising them to arrange a flexible payment plan as soon as possible, and one customer has already taken that advice to heart and done so.

The next billing statement on which the Utility will have the opportunity to begin assessing late penalties will be issued Oct. 12. The next one after that: on Dec. 14.

Members made it crystal clear that they have absolutely no appetite to have customers’ water service shut off for late payment, and for that reason postponed, by an easy consensus, making any decision until at least their next meeting, Oct. 19. “I want to wait until the next billing schedule and see how many people sign up for a repayment schedule,” Member John Schnadenberg offered.

“I think it’s going to get worse before it gets better,” President Larry Brandt said. “I don’t want to be the person who shuts off their water.”

And Member Scot McCord made this plea: “If you’re one of the 1,158 people, please contact the Utility to set something up. We’ll work with anybody to work something out. You don’t want your water turned off at Christmas because you haven’t reached out. We don’t want to shut anybody off. Please make arrangements to pay your bill.”

The Utility’s “Flexible Payment Plan Policy,” adopted by the Service Board at its August meeting:

-- A customer must request an application for a flexible payment plan online at www.chestertonin.org or by calling the Utility Billing Office at 926-1572. The Utility will respond to the customer, regarding approval status, within five business days after receiving a completed application.

-- The Utility will approve a payment plan only for those customers who have not defaulted on a similar agreement within the past 12 months.

-- The number of month payments can be from two to 12 months.

-- The minimum monthly payment will be calculated by dividing the approved balance by the number of payment months.

-- All current forms of payment offered by the Utility will be accepted.

-- If payment is not made, current penalty rates will apply, and current water disconnection service policy will apply.

-- Customers must pay all future bills as they become due in order to avoid any disconnection of service.

Declared Surplus

In other business, members voted unanimously to declare surplus two pieces of equipment: a 1984 Ford step van, the Utility’s old camera truck; and a 2003 Chevrolet 2500ND pickup truck.

Although the town will not hold a municipal auction this year, both vehicles will be displayed in the municipal parking lot across the street from the town hall, at the southeast corner of Broadway and South Eighth Street, and sealed bids will be accepted. Note: both vehicles are badly in need of repair.

Look for the advertisement to be published in the Chesterton Tribune.

August in Review

In August, Chesterton used 52.64 percent of its 3,668,000 gallon per day (gpd) allotment of the wastewater treatment plant; Porter, 43.5 percent of its 851,000 gpd allotment; the Indian Boundary Conservancy District, 50.41 percent of its 81,000 gpd allotment; and the plant as a whole, 50.91 percent of its capacity.

There were no sewage overflows into the Little Calumet River in August, a month which saw only 1.57 inches of rain, the second driest of the year.

Also in August, the Utility ran a deficit of $219,428.17 and in the year-to-date is running a surplus of $394,157.78.

 

Posted 9/23/2020

 
 
 
 

 

 

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