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Wednesday, May 28th, 2008 -- 1:12 PM

There will be no more coddling of City of Neillsville residents who aren't paying their utility bills on time.

In the first quarter of the year, 162 10-day notices were sent to residents who failed to pay their water bills, twenty-five 24-hour notices were delivered before service was disconnected and city workers made multiple trips to homes to turn off, or turn on water service.

"It's getting further and further out of hand," lamented Public Works director Dave Flynn, who explained the situation at a meeting Tuesday night, "Out of these 162, I can pretty much guarantee 125 of them are repeats."

Postage on the mailed notices alone cost $68 last quarter, not to mention the city workers' time; plus, unpaid balances lead to increased utility bills for all users, Flynn explained.

He outlined a new "system", by which there will be less hassle and more incentive to pay bills on time.

"If the payment has not been made, disconnection will take place," Flynn stated, "With the exception of a medical condition. They have to pay their water bill just like anyone else, but their due date can be pushed back 21 days if they have this doctor's excuse."

The city will still work with people struggling to make their payments by setting up deferred payment agreements, but there will be no second or third chances.

"If service is disconnected?the $25 to $40 reconnection fee must be paid before the service is reconnected. In addition, any deferred payment agreement made for reconnection will require immediate payment of at least half the entire amount," Flynn explained.

Those having trouble making their payments should contact City Hall immediately to set up a deferred payment agreement.

Feel free to contact us with questions and/or comments.