Paying your monthly utility bill late will now cost you more money in the City of Newman Grove.
The Newman Grove City Council last Thursday night boosted the late charge from $5 to $25 effective for the next billing cycle.
The City of Newman Grove bills monthly for water, sewer and trash pickup services, and Karen Cleland, outgoing city clerk, noted the current $5 late fee has been in place for some time and does not cover expenses of collecting late fees.
Dave Schroeter, city utilities superintendent, said there are 371 total water/sewer customers in Newman Grove, and typically 40 to 45 have not paid their utility bills by the 15th of each month. By the 25th of each month, it is common to have 10 to 15 who still haven’t paid the previous month’s utility bill. Usually, there are at least two utility customers who receive shut-off notices.
Under the new policy, the $25 late fee will be assessed to utility bills not paid by the 15th of each month.
Council members said they felt this would be a better deterrent to late payments.
Discussion was held on whether or not to make property owners responsible to make sure their tenants pay utility bills each month.
One property owner said this would be time consuming and create extra hassle for property owners, but another said this system is effective and is used in other towns. Requiring a utility deposit from renters when they move in was also discussed.
Schroeter noted that Kennedy Apartments gets one utility bill from the city monthly and adds the cost to the rent. He estimated that Newman Grove currently has 25 to 30 rental houses.
This discussion was tabled until the council’s February meeting.
Read the complete story in the Jan. 16 issue of the Albion News print and e-editions.