Slow mail impacts utility bills

Published 5:47 pm Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

GATESVILLE – Gates County Manager Scott Sauer said he’s had the pleasure to meet numerous county citizens over the past few months.

He just wishes those meetings were under better circumstances.

“I don’t know what has happened to our U.S. Postal Service, but it has really impacted utility billing, particularly utility payments,” Sauer told the county’s Board of Commissioners at their regularly scheduled meeting on March 20.

“Time after time, someone will come to my office and explain that they got their bill just a few days prior than the day it was due.  It seems that the mail delivery is slow of our water bills to our customers.”

Sauer added that he’s heard the same story so many times that he “believes it to be truthful.”

“They dutifully write their check, put it in the mail and send it right away,” he said. “We have case after case, more than 30 days and in some cases way past 30 days, where that check has not been received for that utility bill.”

Sauer noted that like many city/county utility billing entities, Gates County uses a mass mailing system where bills are printed remotely, folded and stuffed in an envelope and mailed from Philadelphia. Return payments, he said, also go by mail to Philadelphia.

“We’ve had that in place for a number of years, but it’s now really creating some hiccups,” Sauer said. “Our policy, as it now exists, has a $60 penalty for late payments. I don’t know how many folks I’ve talked to said they have a $29 or $49 water bill and [due to slow mail] now have a $60 fee accessed for late payment.” 

Sauer suggested the commissioners allow him the discretion to adjust and/or waive the $60 late fee.

“We need to create a fair playing field for our customers and apply waivers of late payments where necessary,” Sauer said.

On a motion from Commissioner Brian Rountree and a second from Commissioner Linda Hofler, the county manager’s request was approved without objection.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

email author More by Cal