The utility district will allow the fiscal court to add a $2 per month 911 service fee to the district’s monthly bills, but there are some issues that must be addressed.
The Columbia Adair Utilities District sent a letter to County Judge Executive Gale Cowan recently in response to a fiscal court ordinance approved in May establishing the service fee for all active water customers in the county.
In the letter, the district agrees to add a separate line on monthly bills for the $2 fee that will be identified as an “Adair 911 Service Fee.”
The district points out that there are 125 customers in Metcalfe County served by the district and the district will have to manually remove the line item from each of those bills.
The district serves a number of apartment buildings and multi-family dwellings that are served by a single meter. The district will not assume responsibility for determining the number of units and will continue to send a single bill, which will include a single service fee.
In addition, the district will not be able to identify multiple meters for agribusiness customers. The fiscal court voted to limit the number of service fees to three for agriculture entities. In the letter, the district suggests that the county set up a process that allows agribusiness owners to request a refund.
Customers cannot be terminated for not paying the 911 service fee and the district will not be responsible for sending second notices or collection letters if the fee is not paid.
The utility district will remit payment to the fiscal court each month less a 2 percent billing and collection fee, which was provided for in the county’s ordinance.
The utility district will also provide names and addresses of people who fail to pay the service fee on a periodic basis.
Because of the billing process used by the district, the service fee could not be added for the June bill but will be reflected on bills mailed to customers around July 24. Those bills are due on Aug. 10. The first payment will be made to the fiscal court in September.
The court voted during a meeting in March to ask the utility district board of directors to add the surcharge to water bills. At the next meeting, utility board members made it clear they would not voluntarily collect the revenue but would do what would be required of them.
There are more than 8,000 water meters in the county, so billing water customers could generate more than $190,000 for 911 dispatch. The revenue would not likely drop each year as it has in past years by being applied to telephone landlines.
Compared to current revenue, adding the fee to water customers instead of landline bills could generate an additional $90,000 a year for the fiscal court to use for 911 dispatch costs.