The Webster Water & Sewer Departments have announced they it will be implementing its Water Shut-Off Policy in an effort to recover approximately $400,000 in outstanding bills. The Water Shut-Off Policy was created in 2014 and approved by the Board of Selectmen to help the departments recover outstanding water and sewer bills. The newly-appointed Water Sewer Commission updated the policy in March 2019.
Under the policy, if an account has a past due balance of greater than 120 days for nonpayment of water and/or sewer fees, they will be sent an overdue balance notice letter by certified mail informing the customer that they must make immediate arrangements to pay the balance due to avoid having the water service shut off. The customer will have 30 days to contact the Town Collector’s office for payment. Door hanger notices will be left at the property both seven days and two days before the termination date. Department personnel will then terminate water services at the location in question if arrangements for payment are not made. Water Sewer Commissioner Earl Gabor said an overdue balance notice letter will be sent via normal US Postal Service prior to the certified letter in an effort to get customers to pay prior to starting the Shut-Off Policy process.
Doug Willardson, Town Administrator, said that there are 175 accounts owe more than $500, with 39 of those accounts owing more than $1,000 in past due bills. The water and sewer department’s budgets are funded through their respective enterprise accounts and the lack of revenue impacts their budgets.
The Water Sewer Commission will consider an appeal request from customers where there is a good-faith effort to pay the balance due and a legitimate hardship is proven to the Commissioners’ satisfaction. The written appeal request for a termination of services hearing must be received at least twenty days before the termination of service date. The Commission will schedule a public meeting to review the appeal requests.
If a residence’s water service is terminated, a notice will be sent to the Webster Board of Health informing them of the shut-off date. Lack of potable water constitutes a violation of the MA State Sanitary Housing Code regulation.
Commissioner Gabor said the goal of the policy is to have customers pay their bills. “Hopefully the notification letters will spur people to get their accounts into good standing. We would prefer not to have to turn off people’s water.”