01/06/11 — Mount Olive will limit extensions on water bills

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Mount Olive will limit extensions on water bills

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on January 6, 2011 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Mount Olive residents will have to obtain a notarized letter signed by a doctor, pastor or lawyer if they want multiple extensions on their utility bills.

The town has always worked with residents to give them a break on overdue bills, Town Manager Charles Brown said.

If a utility customer's water service was scheduled to be shut off on a Friday, but he expected to be able to pay the bill on the following Monday, a phone call or visit to the water department would hold off the shut-down, he said.

But abuse of the system forced a change in town policy, and while the water department will still work with customers who are struggling financially, they must provide evidence that they need the extra time to pay if they require more than one extension in a calendar year.

"They're going to have to have something more valid," Brown said.

The town printed a notice to all Mount Olive utility customers that the policy change took effect Jan. 1 of this year. The change is due to the increasing number of delinquent utility accounts -- including water, sewer and garbage -- the town is facing.

Customers will receive only one "unauthorized" payment extension each calendar year. Beyond that, customers must provide a notarized written statement of financial hardship signed by someone other than the account holder, such as a lawyer, clergy member or doctor.

Additionally, the town will no longer waive utility late fees without notarized written proof signed by someone other than the account holder.

When a customer's water service is cut off, the town charges a $100 fee to restore the service, Brown said.