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Joplin: Deadline to pay past due utility accounts is near - KOAM TV 7

Joplin: Deadline to pay past due utility accounts is near

Updated May 14, 2013 at 5:15 PM CST:  The City of Joplin reminds residents with past due utility accounts to pay their balance or they'll shut off the water.

Beginning Wednesday the city will issue water shut off notices to residents with past due accounts.

Early last month the city announced that customers had until May 15 to settle their account for wastewater and trash services without further late fees.

But after Wednesday the process is moving forward.

Residents have until May 29 to pay their balance.

 

Updated April 11, 2013 at 5:40 PM CST:  Joplin residents with an outstanding balance on their sewer and trash bills will soon have their water shut off.  It applies to people with an outstanding balance of more than $200 or if they are more than 55 days delinquent on their bill.

As an incentive to encourage residents to pay their outstanding balances, any late fees accrued from April 10 to May 14 will be forgiven by the city for those who pay their balance before May 15.

Leslie Haase, the city's finance director, says the city bills for only trash and sewer service, and Missouri American Water issues water bills.  But the city will still control water usage.

"A resident used to get one combined bill for all three services, now they are getting two separate bills," says Haase.  "They are getting a bill from Missouri American for their water they still pay to Missouri American, and they are getting a bill from the City of Joplin, for sewer and trash, and they pay us for that."

There are several ways residents can pay their bills:

  • A drop box (payment stub plus check or money order only) located outside City Hall, 602 S. Main Street, on the northwest side of the building
  • By mail to 602 S. Main Street, Suite 300, Joplin, Missouri 64801
  • In person at the Finance window on the third floor of City Hall (please allow sufficient time as lines can be long at times) 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday
  • Through automatic bank draft (form available in Finance, via mail, or online through the Document Center at <http://joplinmo.org/DocumentCenter/View/1806>) 
  • In the future, residents will also be able to pay online once this feature is set up on our website; please allow a few more months to test and establish this option.

 

Reported March 27, 2013 at 6:31 PM CST:  A change in who collects payments for utility bills in Joplin has led some residents to fall behind in payments for sewer and trash services while overpaying for water.

Joplin resident Hollie DeBerry says her usual sewer and trash service bill was about $35.  She says her most recent bill for the same services increased by $110.

"That's what the water company says I owed them, but yet when I called the water company, the water company tells me I have a $110 credit with them," says DeBerry.

Trying to clear this confusion meant calling both Missouri American Water and the City of Joplin, because in January Missouri American Water said it would no longer collect money for people's sewer and trash service.

That duty now belongs to the city.

DeBerry says her past budgeted money should've already paid any amount due.

"Missouri American sent the last combined bill at the end of December," says Leslie Haase, the Joplin Finance Director.  "They decided they would stop taking payments on behalf of the city for the sewer and trash on January 25th.  At that time, when they decided they weren't going to take any more payments for us, they had to transfer whatever balance that person had for sewer and trash to us."

Haase says if someone's payment to Missouri American Water was in the mail during this transition, Missouri American kept the payment and used it as credit for a person's water bill.

Meaning DeBerry's payment to Missouri American Water for both water and sewer was processed as an overpayment, therefore credit, not payment, because of the transition.

For many residents like DeBerry this one time transitional balance is one too many to cover right now.

"Especially on something you thought you had already paid," DeBerry says.

"We cannot do a payment plan for current charges," says Haase, the city's finance director.  "We are trying to trying to work with people on the transferred balances."

Haase wouldn't give more details of how the city is working with people.  Haase says her department is in the process of getting more resources to expedite the process of handling the sewer and trash bills.

Two city workers are now in charge of sewer and trash bills for 18,000 residents and processing 900 payments by mail a day.  City workers say they've also seen 400 people a day come to City Hall, many of them with some type of question about their bills.

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