Indian River overdue customers are slow to settle overdue utility bills

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INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – Only about 6% of the county’s overdue water and sewer customers have so far taken advantage of a special program to help them settle their accounts, leaving millions still owed.

County officials say they are encouraged by these results.

About $ 2.9 million in charges and fees had accumulated on overdue utility accounts, most of which had been outstanding for more than two years. An additional $ 2 million was due in late fees and penalties.

Most of the overdue money comes from 159 overdue water and sewer accounts, totaling about $ 2 million, with about $ 1.5 million in penalties and interest. The remainder comes from impact-fee loans and assessments for water and sewer connections.

The county hopes that an incentive program, launched last month, removing penalties and late fees for customers who pay by June, will get people to settle their accounts.

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So far, only nine customers have paid, bringing in just $ 19,847, county spokeswoman Kathleen Keenan said in an email. The remaining $ 121,325 owed on those nine accounts due to penalties and fees will be written off, she said.

The county is optimistic that more customers will come forward, judging by the number of calls asking for information about the program, Keenan said.

“Although it’s still early in the program, there has been an overwhelming response from customers,” Keenan said.

Many asked for clarification on the program and wanted to know the payout amounts, she said.

“It looks very promising so far,” Keenan said.

If customers pay their accounts in full by June 1, penalties and late fees will be waived. With a one-year payment plan, the county will waive 90% of late fees.

One of the nine customers chose the payment option, Keenan said.

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Those who fail to get their accounts in order risk foreclosure, but, Keenan said, it’s still too early to tell if the county will take this step.

Colleen Wixon is the Indian River County Government Watch Reporter. She can be contacted at [email protected] or 772-978-2235.

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