The utility committee will recommend to the Trenton City Council to make some changes in the TMU shut off policy in an effort to reduce the number of late notices, the shut-off notices, and re-connect fees.
With payments due by the 18th, bills are sent a shut-off notice with a date when shut off will occur, usually within a week. The committee was told TMU sends approximately 500 late notices per month. Many of them pay including the penalty. But about 50 utility shut-offs occur per month. The reconnection fee is $30.00 if during business hours and $60.00 for after hours.
The policy change discussed last night, and being recommended to the council, involves locking the overnight drop box at the close of business on the day before the shutoffs occur. TMU also is proposing to adopt a policy of no re-connects after hours as the re-connect crew is paid time and a half for a two-hour minimum call out, plus one hour of service truck time.
Comptroller Rosetta Marsh reported Trenton Municipal has write-offs that add up to about $50,000 per year. Pending action by the city council, the changes in the TMU shut off policy is to include with bills mailed next month to customers. Responding to a question, Mrs. Marsh said customers will see lower amounts due on their bills that go out in two weeks which will reflect kilowatt usage from October, the council-approved five percent reduction in electric rates, and the annual TMU change to the lower winter monthly rates.
In talking about the completion of refurbishing the two water towers and having both in service once again, a question was asked about the taste and odor of the water. Utility Director Ron Urton told of efforts being taken to resolve those issues. He reported the Department of Natural Resources has now given the go-ahead to add the chemical orthophosphate to coat the lead service lines that seem to plague cast iron pipes in older residential sections of town.
Separate testing of water samples has uncovered what Urton quoted the DNR as reporting a “new growth of algae” that’s particularly troublesome for municipalities, not just Trenton. Urton said water department officials are looking into, subject to DNR approval, using hydrogen peroxide at the pumps located at the city reservoir. The effort would be to “eat up” organic matter like algae and leaves.