City staff will wait until after mail has arrived the business day after a holiday or weekend due date to process late payments.
The issue was brought up by an alderman after two customers made complaints that city hall was closed on the day the utility bills were due in January and they were assessed a late payment for paying the following business day.
It was discussed Tuesday night at the parks, buildings, development and public service committee meeting.
City Administrator Russell Rost said the issue has come up before, primarily when a holiday falls on the 15th, such as the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
It also occurs when the 15th is on a weekend day.
Rost said a notice will continue to be added to the utility bills to note if city hall is closed on the 15th.
He also recommended waiting until the mail arrived before posting penalties if the 15th is on a holiday or weekend.
“Both of these came in the mail on that date,” Rost said.
The current ordinance states that bills paid after the 15th of the month are subject to a 10 percent late fee.
The last discussion was in 2010 and at that time, the board of aldermen asked that a notation be made on the bills for those months, but no further action was taken. Rost noted that it’s much easier for a person to make the payment now than it was in 2010.
In addition to mailing or dropping off payments, the city has added online bill pay, which he said has significantly reduced the number of shutoffs.
“We very seldom go over 100 anymore, and we used to do that pretty regularly,” Rost said. “Now, a high month is in the low 70s.”
Additionally, residents can drop payments in the drop box at city hall.
An automatic bill payment option also is available.
Some banks, Rost said, have an out-of-state contractor mail online payments, in which case they haven’t been received by the due date.
That was the case with one of the two recent complaints. Both of the fees were reversed when the complaints were made.