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City of Ferndale water, sewer and storm drain utility billing (August 2018). My Ferndale News file photo

Struggling with a high water/sewer bill? You have been given time to catch up

The Ferndale City Council voted Monday to approve a recommendation from the City administrator to allow an extended period of time for city water/sewer customers to bring their accounts current before shutting off service and/or imposing penalties.

The vote was unanimous in favor of giving customers until February 19, 2019 to bring their balances to $0.00. If there remains an overdue balance at that point, late fees can be charged and water shut offs can occur as per normal procedure.

In the mean time, city utility customers must bring the total outstanding balance to or below $200 to avoid late fees and/or having their water service shut off per the City Council’s action.

One citizen spoke during the council meeting pointing out how her relative, while benefiting from the rate assistance discount, still received an unusually high August billing. Even though she lives on a fixed income, she paid the total amount by the due date of September 17th. She did so, according to the speaker, because she was fearful of having her water shut off if she did not. This left her with no money for the remainder of the month although the speaker’s family were able to provide financial assistance.

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City officials noted the next billing to some of their approximately 4,000 utility customers is again likely to be higher than customers expect. It will include water usage from August 5th to October 4th which includes days of warmer weather as did the August billing and it will also lack the summer sewer cost adjustment that had been applied in years prior. This billing is scheduled to go out at the end of October.

When questioned about the data collection and processing systems used to generate the utility bills, city staff said “the software is running smoothly and we regularly double check unusually high readings to make sure we got it right. We had one oddball reading last cycle that we are working to resolve.”

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