Mayor: City aware of late water bill mailings

Published 5:45 am Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Bogalusa Mayor Wendy Perrette said that some citizens may have been getting their water bills mailed late, but the city is aware of the problem and will not assess late fees for those who make an effort to pay as quickly as possible.

Perrette said she has heard from several constituents who are worried because they are getting their bills in the mail only a few days before they are due. She said that the bills are being sent late not because of any problems in billing or mailing, but because of software that is used to determine the readings on the water system.

“Right now the information from the software that does the readings is being delayed, and it’s making the bills go out later,” she said. “It’s a problem that we can’t afford to fix right now, but plan to address once the current contract expires.”

Perrette said that a previous administration approved the contract with the current water billing software company, and the city cannot afford to buy out of the agreement right now. However, she noted that city officials are aware of the issue and will work with customers.

Customers are typically assessed a $7.50 late fee, but Perrette said the city will forego that fee if the customer makes an effort to pay as soon as possible. She said the city will likely offer a grace period of a week or so.

“The reality is we’re not going to charge someone $7.50 (in late fees) if they only got their bill in the mail a few days before,” Perrette said.

However, Perrette also noted that most customers get their bills around the same time, so city workers will know if any citizen is trying to game the system by paying a bill extremely late.

“We know when the bills were supposed to be mailed out, and we’ll work with you,” she said. “But at the same time, you can’t go without paying and then show up next month and say ‘I got my bill late.’”

Perrette also said she hopes the city will eventually be able to send out all bills at the start of the month, rather than split customers’ due dates between the 1st and the 15th like it is currently.

“The reasoning for having two different due dates was because they thought it would have a constant cash flow through the city, but that’s really not the case,” she said. “It would be easier and cheaper to do the bill just one time a month, and that’s what we hope to eventually do.

“Please be patient. We apologize for the inconvenience right now.”