Commissioners approve changes to water system rules, rates

Many changes aimed to tackle delinquent accounts, nonpayments
Commissioners appoint members to several boards

By Kevin Spradlin

ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond County commissioners on Monday approved a series of changes to the rules and regulations of the Richmond County water system that strengthen the county’s ability to levy fees to residents.

Bryan Land, public works director, said the changes were prompted by a seminar at the University of North Carolina’s School of Government that was attended by county staff.

Land said in an email Tuesday to The Pee Dee Post that county water customers owe approximately $65,000 in delinquent payments, and some 300 customers are on the cutoff list. Both figures have improved in recent months.

“This is a drastic improvement from where we were seven months ago when we began ramping up collection efforts and implementing our new procedures for cutoffs,” Land said. “At that point, (we) were $500,000 in delinquent water payments and in excess of 475 customers on the cutoff list.”

Currently we have approx. 65k of delinquent payments on the cutoff list, approx. 300 customers.  This is a drastic improvement from where we were 7 months ago when we began ramping up collection efforts & implementing our new procedures for cutoffs.  At that point there were 500k in delinquent water payments & in excess of 475 customers on the cutoff list.

RCOEffective immediately, an applicant for county water service will be asked to provide a social security number.

“The county may use the applicant’s social security number to check credit worthiness for purposes of establishing the amount of required deposit or determining if the applicant qualifies for additional services such as payment arrangements.”

Social security numbers may be released to various state agencies or programs or, of course, “to private debt collection agencies” when the situation calls for such action. Though providing the number is voluntary, “the county reserves the right to charge a higher deposit to applicants who refuse to provide a social security number as part of their application.”

While the $100 deposit has long been levied for renters and mobile home owners who don’t also own the land on which it sits —  but not property owners — payment by personal check will no longer be permitted for the required deposit fee.

When water service is established at a home, the water must be turned off in order for the meter to stabilize. If the applicant for service fails to turn off the water, the water will be turned off and “there will be a $25 service charge for the technician to return to the service address to make a second attempt to stabilize the meter.”

Other changes include:

* If a home with county water service has multiple adult applicant and one adult listed on the account has service terminated, “the remaining occupants must contact the county to have service restored. The county will provide the remaining occupants with a new customer number at this time.”

* Bills have been due when rendered and become delinquent 15 days thereafter, whereupon a penalty of $20 per month will be added. New, though, is that if the bill isn’t paid in 10 days, the water will be shut off anyway.

* If a check or bank draft is returned for insufficient funds, there will be a $25 service fee applied to the customer’s account.

* If there is a second insufficient funds issue within six months, “the customer will be required to pay by cash, credit card or money order for the next 12 months.”

* Related to the change above, at the end of the 12 months, “the customer may request in writing to be allowed to use personal checks as payment. In addition, the customer will also be required to post a deposit equal to three months’ bills, with the minimum amount being $100. This deposit will be held until the account is closed and paid in full and will not bear interest.”

* If a check is used to pay a delinquent account and that check bounces, service will be immediately discontinued upon notification. Service will be restored upon payment of the account in full, including the balance, the $25 returned check fee, the $25 cutoff fee and the $25 reconnection fee.

* Customers who experience a hardship may request a payment agreement, permitted once every three years. No payment agreement swill be made on accounts where the outstanding amount owed is less than $500. Payment agreements will break the amount due into thirds, with the balance due in 90 days.


* Appointed Tracy Parris, planner, to Regional Land Use Advisory Committee and to the Lumber River RPO-Transportation Coordinating Committee

* Introduced Robby Hall as new director of Richmond County Department of Social Services. Hall is a Richmond County native who has spent the past three years as director of Scotland County’s Department of Social Services.

* Appointed Commissioner Ben Moss to the NCSE board of directors

* Appointed Robby Hall, Department of Social Services director, to the Richmond County Aging Advisory Council

* Appointed Katie Rohleder, director of Discovery Place KIDS-Rockingham, to the Richmond County Tourism Development Authority to fill the unexpired term of Jeff Barnhardt. Barnhardt recently resigned his seat. The term expires June 30, 2016.

* Appointed Tina Sauls, of Rockingham, to the Richmond County Public Library System Board of Trustees to replace John Dawkins, who recently resigned due to a work-related situation.

* Appointed Caroline Thomas Goodwin to a regular member’s seat on the Rockingham Board of Adjustment and Appeals. Goodwin has previously served as the county’s ETJ alternate representative. Goodwin replaces Mark Rhyne, who resigned due to the fact he no longer lives in the ETJ jurisdiction.

* Appointed Tim Long to fill Goodwin’s previous position as ETJ alternate member. Both seats are three-year terms that expire in June 2015.


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