CAMDEN — Camden Village Council discussed policies regarding unpaid water bills in the wake of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic during its first bi-monthly meeting Thursday, April 16. Council’s regularly scheduled meeting on April 2 was canceled due to concerns about Covid-19 and social distancing.
Council voted unanimously to waive disconnect fees for water and sewer service in the village for 60 days during its March 19 meeting. Council member Jeff Steele suggested that the village refrain from disconnecting residents’ service throughout the duration of the restrictions and closures caused by Covid-19 at that time. The following week Governor Mike DeWine issued an executive order prohibiting cities and villages in Ohio from disconnecting service.
Mayor Karen Moss raised the issue of how to begin enforcing the collection of delinquent accounts once the governor’s order is lifted during last Thursday’s meeting.
“Some people are going to think they just don’t have to pay their water bill,” Moss said.
Those with unpaid water bills during the current crisis tend to be the same ones who habitually have trouble paying their bills on time, according to village fiscal officer Becky Wilson.
“The ones that are shut off every month are the ones who haven’t paid,” Wilson said.
Council member Kelly Doran agreed with Wilson’s assessment.
“I don’t think it’s fair for the 97 or 98 percent of us who do pay our bill to have to carry the rest,” Doran said.
Council member Debbie Hickman cited the difficulty of allowing residents to pay off their delinquent water bills over time.
“How long of a payment plan are you going to give them?” Hickman asked. “Because this could go on and on.”
“We need generous terms,” Doran said, suggesting that delinquent residents could be allowed to repay their unpaid balances in increments of $25 added to each month’s current bill. “I’d rather take more time than do something that makes the situation even more difficult.”
Council also debated what to do about a resident facing an abnormally large bill due to an underground water leak. The village’s current policy would require the resident to pay the full bill, with an amount equal to the resident’s three-month average water use assessed for the current month and the remainder being applied as a credit toward future bills.
“We have a bad policy when it comes to leaks,” Doran said. “I don’t see how we can bill someone for this huge amount and then give them a credit. Who needs a credit? They need their money.”
Council ultimately voted unanimously to adjust the resident’s bill back to the three-month average.
Council meetings are held on the first and third Thursday of each month, at 7 p.m., at Camden Town Hall.
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @improperenglish