Delinquent water customers discussed by city council

STEUBENVILLE – Mayor and Acting City Manager Domenick Mucci announced a three-pronged plan Tuesday night to collect delinquent water accounts and to stop future delinquent accounts.

Mucci said the city currently has approximately $106,000 in 81 delinquent residential accounts.

“We will be moving forward to place property liens against those citizens who are not paying on their delinquent accounts. Hopefully, we can recapture some of those dollars. I have also had a conversation and will be meeting next month with the Jefferson Metropolitan Housing Authority to change the way Section 8 housing residents receive a subsidy for their water bills. I am making arrangements for the subsidy for water bills to be paid directly to the city because some of the Section 8 residents aren’t paying their water bills,” continued Mucci.

Mucci said Law Director S. Gary Repella is reviewing proposals from prospective debt collection agencies.

“I anticipate signing an agreement with a new collection agency in the near future,” said Mucci.

According to Repella, “delinquent water customers can expect to pay their delinquent accounts plus an additional fee for the agency.

“Unfortunately, the majority of people who owe money to the city are uncollectable,” added Repella.

“But for us to do nothing is really not an option. We are moving in the right direction. We are being aggressive and very serious about collecting these delinquent accounts,” said Mucci.

The delinquent accounts discussion came during a utility committee meeting called to discuss large commercial customer water meters.

Finance Director Alyssa Kerker said all of the malfunctioning commercial water meters have been repaired and her office will compare the accurate readings to the past estimated water bills.

“We just want to do one more actual reading next month so we can take a three-month review,” said Kerker.

During a brief sunshine meeting Tuesday night, 6th Ward Councilman David Lalich proposed an ordinance authorizing the acting city manager to amend the wastewater improvement project to include additional work.

Lalich also introduced legislation to authorize the payment of bills greater than $3,000 without a purchase order.

“And the entire council would like to sponsor a resolution commending Councilman at large Kenny Davis and his wife, Penny, for working so hard to make sure the Belleview swimming pool would open this summer,” stated Lalich.

Fourth Ward Councilwoman Angela Suggs said the beautification committee will hold its first meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers.

And, 2nd Ward Councilman Rick Perkins requested a finance committee meeting for 6:30 p.m. on July 9 to discuss the hotel and motel tax for the first six months of this year.

“I would also like to see a report from the Historic Fort Steuben detailing how they used the hotel and motel tax so far this year,” noted Perkins.