City debates past-due bills policy

How Iola handles past-due utility bills was the focus of an hourlong debate Monday. The city is planning to reduce the late fees for past-due bills, and give customers one free pass a year to get their services turned back on at no extra charge if they've been disconnected.

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Local News

March 10, 2020 - 10:39 AM

Jessica Qualls addresses Iola City Council members about the city’s policy for past-due utility bills Monday. Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

Iolans will likely pay a lower late fee for past-due utility bills, and may get one free pass per year to get their services turned back on if they’re disconnected.

In a wide-ranging discussion Monday, City Council members debated the cost of compassion versus what it takes to ensure the city continues to operate its utilities as one would a business.

In the end, the Council directed city staffers to devise a new ordinance that would reduce the penalty for past-due utility bills from 5% to 2.5%; and forgive customers a fee associated with reconnecting their utilities if they’re shut off due to lack of payment. The reconnection fee would be forgiven once per year, Councilwoman Nancy Ford suggested, with subsequent reconnections costing $35. (The current fee is $25; $75 for after-hours reconnections.)

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