The City of Bowman is getting tough on those who are delinquent on city utility bills. A number of customers’ water and sewer service was disconnected this past Friday due to unpaid bills. According to Mayor Betty Jo Maxwell, some customers have not paid their bill since February.
According to Councilwoman Carla Patten, the city is coming up with a uniform policy on how to handle customers whose bills are not paid on time.
According to Patten, gas service policies concerning unpaid bills and service interruption fall under a set of rules all their own and the city had no control over those rules.
Utility (water and sewer) bills have a due date printed on them and the bill lists a cutoff date as 10 days after a bill comes due. There was some discussion about allowing customers to get to two months due before cutoff but council members stuck to the original plan in the end.
According to the new rules, cutoffs will only occur on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday and all disconnects must be performed prior to 2 p.m. The dates and times were selected to give those whose service is disconnected time to make a payment and have their service reinstated. The account must be brought current and reconnect fees paid before service will be reconnected.
The city will allow customers who contact city hall to make payments on utility bills but the term cannot exceed three months and the unpaid amount plus the current bill must be paid on time to avoid suspension of services.
The vote to approve the new utility guidelines was 4-0.
At the Meeting Elbert County Natural Resources Agent Patrick Marcellino talked at length to Bowman council members about the city’s Gateway Grant, including offering advice about landscaping at the Community Center. Marcellino offered to help the city wade through the paperwork needed to change the plans for the grant as well. According to him, the process would take 3-4 weeks.
The city was informed they needed to file an encroachment permit with the state department of transportation and once the permit was granted Bowman would receive the needed extension to resubmit the plan and move forward with the project.
Mayor Betty Jo Maxwell said her understanding was that the grant was approved by a former council and that she could move forward without input from the present council. The current council got involved due to the fact the original plan must be modified because the submitted plan does not include work at the community center. Current council members must approve the new plans before they can be resubmitted to the DOT.
Thinking she had the authority, Maxwell ordered lilies from multiple growers in the area and wanted to proceed with the purchase but council members disagreed. Councilman Clay Rooker read a letter to the local growers explaining that the mayor did not have council’s approval to purchase any flowers. The letter went on to state it was doubtful the plan and site would be ready this planting season (Oct. 15-March 15) and that only purchase orders issued by the city clerk and authorized by council should be honored.
The vote was 4-0 in favor of sending the letter to the nurseries.
Mark Berryman WSGC News