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Article posted: 2/27/2013 5:15 PM

Buffalo Grove may hike water reconnection fees

By Steve Zalusky

Buffalo Grove may be upping the fees for reinstating customers who have had their water shut off by the village.

Village trustees at a committee of the whole meeting this week discussed increasing the reconnection fee from $25 to $50, and creating a $100 fee for after-hours reconnection.

Currently, when a resident seeks an after-hours reconnection, a water department employee is called in for a minimum of two hours of overtime, at a cost to the village of approximately $100. With the switch to a new system for managing utility billing data, the village is finding it easier to monitor delinquent accounts, Finance Director Scott Anderson said.

Anderson said that a customer has about 21 days to make payment after receiving a bill. After that, a 10 percent late fee is assessed. A late notice is then generated 10 days later, announcing the past due amount and a shut-off date roughly 60 days later.

Once the water is shut off, service can only be resumed when all the charges are paid, plus the reconnection fee.

Anderson said about 7 percent of residents are delinquent for at least a day, with about 4 or 5 percent delinquent for more than 30 days. There are about 80 shut offs per year, with 16 percent of those being after-hours shut-offs.

"Our goal is always to keep water accounts on," Anderson added. "We work with the customers. Obviously we want to maintain service."

Trustees also discussed whether delinquent residents should be granted a one-time waiver on the reconnection fees.

"I don't understand why we would give an automatic waiver. We're talking about folks who are basically several months behind and have shown no inclination to do anything to work with the village to take care of the account," Trustee Jeffrey Berman said. "What I'm hearing from staff is if you show the slightest inclination to work with us, they're not going to put you on the shut off list."

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