Trenton’s Utility Committee to recommend deadline on delinquent bills to avoid disconnection

Trenton Utility Committee

Citing a concern for a larger number of delinquent bills than usual, Trenton’s Utility Committee is recommending a deadline of mid-May to either have the bill paid, or a payment plan established, to avoid potential disconnections. The recommendation to be forwarded to the City Council lists a May 15th deadline.

Utility committee members Larry Crawford, Dave Mlika, and Cathie Smith met Tuesday evening to hear reports from electric, water, wastewater, the director, and the comptroller of Trenton Municipal Utilities.  Rosetta Marsh reported 430 delinquent notices went out this week which she noted includes some 20 businesses. Collectively, that’s $124,000 worth of delinquent bills with some $45,000 due from two months previous or earlier.

It was noted the city council previously agreed to waive TMU’s late payment penalty for April, May, and June but it was assessed in March. The council had not taken a position on disconnection notices. Mrs. Marsh said she hopes the stimulus payments coming from the federal government will prompt delinquent customers to pay up or get a payment plan in place.

The council last month also postponed an eight and a half percent increase in water rates; with that increase to be reflected on bills received in July for usage in June.  Comptroller Marsh, in her written report, said the lack of an increase for two months will have an impact of approximately $30,000. Waiving the late payment penalty for three months will be a loss of approximately $40,000 for TMU.

With one month left for the fiscal year, the TMU financial information shows as of March 31st, net revenues experienced gains year to date in all three funds. Electric is up $484,663, water revenues are up $235,799 and wastewater has had $697,038 gain, but Comptroller Marsh said the increased amounts are significantly down from the previous fiscal year (2018-19).

The cash analysis shows operating revenues, investments, consumer deposits, certificates of participation collectively amount to $11,689,875 as of March 31st in the three utility departments, which is up by $377,000 plus from February 29th.

With the TMU and city hall offices closed to public visitation due to the coronavirus recommendations, she noted there’s been increased usage of online web payments. The most were 445 online payments in March; and as of Sunday, April 19th, 387 customers had paid online with expectations this month’s total will exceed March.

Utility Ron Urton and Comptroller Rosetta Marsh both discussed with the lobby closed, employees were split into teams to work while maintaining their safety, but it’s noted all staff is available if emergencies occur.

Several current or pending TMU projects were discussed with department heads during the meeting. These included the recent disinfection process that met a deadline the first of April, installation of a new transformer at the north substation, the upcoming switch from the old headworks building at the sewer plant to the new one, progress is being made on a storage building and a power interruption at Nestle’s.