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Published 9:07am Tuesday, October 29, 2013

AHOSKIE – Residential and commercial water/sewer customers in the Town of Ahoskie will soon see a change in their billing cycle.

And the first two bills will be noticeably higher.

Due to a change in the computer software that bills these water/sewer accounts, town officials must first deal with the current method of generating those monthly statements, one that is roughly two months in arrears.

“In order to get current usage billed in the same month that our customers receive their bill, the town will be sending out the next two bills with more than the usual 30 day cycle,” said Ahoskie Town Manager Tony Hammond.

In order to play “catch-up” for the start of the new billing software (which begins in January, 2014), Hammond said the bills sent out at the end of November will represent water/sewage usage from Sept. 4 through Oct. 18 (a 44-day cycle). The bills sent out at the end of December will be from Oct. 19 through Dec. 18 (a 60-day cycle).

At their Oct. 8 meeting, members of the Ahoskie Town Council, while welcoming the computer software upgrade, expressed concern over the two longer billing cycles. Council members said they knew the timing was bad, as the November and December bills would be much higher than normal, compounded by the fact those bills would arrive during the holidays.

Hammond was encouraged by Council members to find a way to soften that financial blow and to use whatever means necessary to inform Ahoskie’s water/sewer customers well in advance of receiving those big bills.

With those orders in hand, Hammond said customers could either choose to pay the November and December water/sewer bills in their entirety (by the normal due date of the 15th of the month) or pay the normal bill and then have six months (until June, 2014) to take care of the amount in excess of the normal bill.

“Due to the longer billing cycle for the months of November and December, you will only be required to pay your normal bill by the 15th of the month,” Hammond said.  “If you choose to carry over the balance, you will be required to pay your monthly bill plus 1/6 of the carry over balance by the 15th of each month. The current balance plus the carry over must be paid by the 15th of each month to avoid any additional late fees.”

Hammond also advised those customers who have set-up automatic payment drafts will need to call Town Hall by Jan. 3, 2014 if you do not want the full December bill drafted on Jan. 7.

“If you do cancel the draft in January, you will need to make sure you pay the average bill plus carry over by Jan. 15. Once you decide to reinstate your draft, please call Town Hall,” Hammond said.

“Feel free to contact Town Hall (332-5146) if you have any questions regarding this transition process,” he added. “The staff is here to assist with any questions and/or concerns. The Town of Ahoskie appreciates your patience as we work through this process together.”

When the computer software change is in place, the water/sewer bills will reflect a customer’s most current usage. As an example, the bill sent out on Jan. 31, 2014 will be for the water/sewer usage from Dec. 18, 2013 through Jan. 18, 2014. This will allow customers to be aware of any current leaks and/or other water issues.

The new billing system will take into account the exact monthly usage of a water/sewer customer. The current system is only capable of billing in 1,000 gallon increments. Partial amounts are placed in an account and the customer isn’t billed until the total reaches another 1,000 gallons.

“We’re trying to get it where we can read and bill for everything that you use right now in one 30-day cycle,” Hammond said.

All customers will receive information concerning the changeover and payment options for November and December in their water bill.

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