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Unpaid sewer bills in Kingwood reach $30k since COVID-19 policies stopped service termination in March

Sewer bills in Kingwood have reached a total of $30,149 since March.

Amy DeBerry, water clerk, said the current amount in overdue bills for 90 days is $19,000.

She said this amount is due to about 100 customers who haven’t paid their bills.

“Our biggest 90-day bill is $500,” DeBerry said. “They (the customer) are gone. I don’t know if the bill is from COVID, from a leak or from a payment plan.”

She said another $11,149 is 30 days overdue.

“When this (COVID-19) is over, we are going to have a lot of people on payment plans,” DeBerry said.

She said in March the State Public Service Commission (PSC) asked utilities not to turn off service to customers with overdue bills due to COVID-19.

DeBerry said prior to this request if a sewer bill wasn’t paid by the 20th of the month a cut off notice was sent out on the 21st. She said then customers would either come in and make payment arrangements or their service would be terminated.

DeBerry said she recently called the PSC and ask if shut offs could be resumed.

“I told them we are not generating enough revenue to pay the bills,” she said.

DeBerry said the PSC told her service could only be terminated to individuals who didn’t answer the phone when contacted or who didn’t come in and make payment arrangements.

She said renters make up a large portion of the unpaid bills.

Board member Randy Plum asked DeBerry if the law allows asking renters to pay a deposit. DeBerry said everyone would have to pay or it would be discrimination against renters.

Kingwood sanitary sewer currently serves 1,442 customers.

In other business, board members changed their meeting date from the first to the second Monday of each month.

The next meeting will be 2:30 p.m. July 13.

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