Sunday, July 12, 2015

Municipal Services Envy

I visited the Village of Valatie's website recently and discovered this, right on the front page:

What a concept! Why can't the City of Hudson provide this kind of service for its residents?

Every year, the city treasurer grouses about cash flow problems in the water department because people are not paying their water bills on time. Every year, in November, there is a huge list (last year it was thirty-five pages long) of property owners--a list that reads like a Who's Who in Hudson and usually includes at least one alderman--who are in arrears with their water bills. Every year, the Common Council passes a resolution to relevy unpaid water bills to the next year's tax bill.

In 2013, the Common Council passed a local law intended to, in the words of then city treasurer Eileen Halloran, "take away an incentive to let you not pay water and sewer bills on time." The Register-Star used similarly derogatory language, speaking about "a loophole . . . that allows for the untimely payment of water bills without penalty," suggesting that people who fail to pay their water bills on time are conniving deadbeats looking to screw the City and give themselves a nine-month interest free loan of a few hundred dollars every year. Of course, it never seemed to occur to anyone in City government that making it more convenient to pay the water bill might alleviate the problem.

The City water bills arrive quarterly, seemingly out of sync with any other bills, and, in this age of online banking, they are probably the only bills most people receive that cannot be paid online with a credit card or a debit card. It's far too easy to set the bill aside when it arrives and forget about it. Perhaps making it more convenient to pay the water bill would mean that fewer people would be in arrears. If the Village of Valatie has figured out how to do it, why can't Hudson?


  1. Maybe if Hudson had water meters - which means one actually pays for the water used - instead of this corrupted unit system scam - folks would be able to pay their bills.