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Water billing changes forthcoming

GATESVILLE – Pending changes to the billing cycle of the county’s public water system were explained in more detail here recently.

During the recent meeting of the Gates County Commissioners, Diane Hendrix of the Customer Service Department gave the board a brief overview of the transition.

In August, the commissioners approved a recommendation from County Manager Tim Wilson to change the billing cycle from monthly to every other month.

Hendrix explained that there are six meter reading books totaling 4,273 water accounts. Books #2 and #3 comprise basically one-half of those accounts. She said those two books could become billing cycle two while books #1, #4, #5, #6 would be billing cycle one.

“We have to have a beginning point to roll this over to billing every other month,” Hendrix explained. “For the usage month of October, only cycle two will receive a bill. If we didn’t do that, one of the cycles would receive a three-month water [usage] bill and that would be a hardship on half of our county.”

Hendrix provided a sample copy of a water bill for September. It contains a special message (marked in red type) that explains the pending changes to the billing cycle. That message denotes if a water customer’s account number begins with a 1, 4, 5 or 6, they will not receive a bill in December. Those accounts will be billed in January for October and November water usage (meter read in December); a bill in March for December and January usage (meter read in February) and henceforth follow this two-month pattern.

If the account number begins with a 2 or a 3, they will receive a December bill (for October usage). Their next bill will arrive in February for November/December usage (meter read in January); a bill in April for January/February usage (meter read in March), and henceforth follow this two-month pattern.

The sample water bill also notes that beginning in January 2022, the county will no longer assess a 10 percent penalty on late payments. Payments are still due on the 16th day of the month in which the bill is received.

However, if payment is not received within a 10-day grace period after the due date, water service will be disconnected. The reconnection fee will increase from $40 to $60 effective in January, 2022.

There are no increases in the water rates as the monthly base fee remains at $12 (for 2,000 gallons of usage). With the implementation of the new billing cycle, the statements will reflect a $24 base fee (for two months).

County Manager Tim Wilson said the commissioners still need to vote at their October meeting on final implementation of the changes. Upon that final approval, the changes will be officially enacted.

“What we’re doing today is just giving you [commissioners] an update on where we are at currently with this pending transition and also wanted to get this information out to the public and give them as much as advance notice as possible as to these changes,” Wilson said.

“Change is always hard so I’m pretty sure that we will still receive calls from our customers who are concerned about not receiving their water bill every month,” Hendrix noted.

Those needing additional information about these changes are encouraged to call 252-357-2003.

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.

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