Written by STEVE OSTERMANN
Wednesday, 05 March 2014 19:06
Trustees balk at committee recommendation to charge customers for special services
Grafton officials are reconsidering a plan that calls for water utility customers to be charged for special billing and meter-reading services, as well as missed appointments if they schedule service calls.
The Village Board on Monday tabled consideration of a new fee schedule recommended by the Public Works Board.
The schedule includes a $25 charge for special billing or meter reading, $25 for each missed appointment during regular business hours and $40 for a missed appointment after hours.
Public Works Director Dave Murphy said the fees are needed to help the utility cover the cost of those services.
Under the plan, a special billing charge would be assessed when a customer requests a bill outside the regular billing cycle. A special meter-reading charge would apply when customers request a reading outside the regular schedule.
Customers would be charged for missed appointments when they fail to be present for service calls or provide reasonable cancellation notice, Murphy said.
The Works Board recommended by a 3-2 vote that the new schedule begin March 19, when a water rate increase approved by the Public Service Commission goes into effect.
Members Les Blum, Pat Murray and Sue Meinecke supported the plan, with Dave Antoine and Lisa Harbeck opposed.
Village Administrator Darrell Hofland also opposes the proposal, Murphy told the board.
During Monday’s meeting, the plan drew fire from Trustee Jim Grant.
“If we don’t show up for the appointment, is the department going to pay the resident for missing it?” Grant asked.
Grant said he wouldn’t support the new fees because they are unnecessary.
Murphy said the utility has a good record of timely service calls and wants to discourage missed appointments. The fees are consistent with those currently used by other municipalities, he told the board.
But Village President Jim Brunnquell said the fee schedule needs some work.
“I don’t see anything that gives someone the opportunity to have an extenuating circumstance (for missing an appointment),” Brunnquell said.
“Do we want to be heavy-handed or be as customer-friendly as possible?”
Murphy agreed to have the Works Board consider allowing exceptions for missed appointments.
“The utility would follow a plan of one grace period if that’s what the Village Board wishes,” Murphy said.
The Works Board is expected to review the proposed fees at its Monday, March 10, meeting.