Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Paying for the Water

Last night, the Common Council went through its annual November ritual of passing a resolution to add unpaid water and sewer fees to people's property taxes. Accompanying the resolution was a list of all the offenders, which goes on for 31 pages and includes more than 300 names. Mine is among them, along with those of the current mayor and two former mayors, a couple of supervisors, an alderman, and a few prominent business owners.

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." At that time, in a public meeting, and in 2015, in a post on Gossips, I suggested that the City needed to make it more convenient for people to pay their water bill. The water bill arrives quarterly, seemingly out of sync with any other bills, and, in this age of online banking, it is probably the only bill that cannot be paid online. You have to send a check--in your own envelope--or go in person to City Hall and climb the stairs to the second floor to pay the bill. Is it any wonder that this bill is often set aside, forgotten, and then goes unpaid?

In several of his conversational meetings in the five wards, mayor-elect Rick Rector spoke about the arcane methods of billing and payment for the water and sewer bills and made known his intention to bring the system into the 21st century to allow the bill to be paid online. If he succeeds in this, the list of property owners in arrears on their water and sewer bills in November 2018 will certainly be much shorter.


  1. A non issue in search of a solution. Didn't know paying a bill has become such a burden to some.

  2. I have to concur that I think it sounds kind of silly to say that a bill can go unpaid if it is not convenient, or not the utmost of convenience, to pay it. Check envelope stamp mailbox the end. Convenience is the enemy of well being. Convenience has authored and sponsored untold ills. Rebecca Wolff

  3. Seriously!? How ridiculous. We all know it’s due quarterly and certainly we receive the bill with enough time to pay it. While paying online is my preferred option, I don’t think not having a return envelope provided with the bill is a good enough excuse to not pay. That’s like saying “the dog ate my homework”!

  4. I've never had to climb stairs to the second floor - office is down the hall next to Chambers.