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Murfreesboro plans for late water bill collections

MURFREESBORO – Following the recommendation from the UNC School of Government, Murfreesboro residents who’ve fallen behind on their water bill payments due to the ongoing pandemic will have six months to catch up.

Becky Turner, the town’s Public Works Director, presented the information to the Town Council at their regular meeting here on Sept. 9.

“If anyone who has not paid their bill or is behind on their bill because of the COVID ordeal, we need to give them six months to bring their bill in line,” Turner summed up the proposal.

She estimated there are more than 200 accounts affected.

Back on March 31, Gov. Roy Cooper issued Executive Order 124—later extended by Executive Order 142—which ordered the suspension of utility disconnections for nonpayment. The order also stated that utility providers could not charge late fees or penalties while the executive order was in effect.

Cooper’s order expired on July 29.

The recommendation by the UNC School of Government said that customers would be able to pay what they owe through a payment plan over the next six months. Those payments would be in addition to their regular monthly bill going forward.

Turner noted that they cannot add late fees on bills issued during the period of the executive order, but they can add them, if applicable, on new bills. She also explained that if someone fails to follow their payment plan and gets to the point of having their water cut off, they’ll have to pay the whole amount in full before the service is reconnected.

“That’s the recommendation,” she emphasized.

“I think that’s fair. As fair as it can be,” said Council member David Brown.

Brown motioned to implement the recommendation, and Council member Berna Stephens seconded. The vote was unanimously in favor.