OROVILLE – The Oroville City Council voted to extend the date at which utility bills, if unpaid, are considered past due and incur a fine, at their Nov. 21 council meeting.
Mayor Naillon said 190 Utility Billing Date Questionnaires were received back by the city. The questionnaire, which went out with the utility bill asked, “Is the due date of the 19th a hardship?” Of those questionnaires returned, 33 people answered that it was a hardship and 157 said it wasn’t.
“The bill is actually past due on the 20th, so whatever money we receive should be in by the 19th, they should know that. However, I feel the few people who said it was hard to get it back in the mail in time, I tend to agree with them,” said Mayor Ed Naillon, adding, “I feel they were pretty honest saying it only happened to them a few times. I don’t feel anybody really overdramatized any of their responses.”
Naillon gave an example of one response where the person said they get the bill on the sixth, then write the check and it takes up to 10 days to get it to the city.
“I don’t know how true that is, that it takes that long,” said the mayor.
Assistant Clerk Emily Finsen said, “We have been with our bill pay customers where the bank prints it and mails a check on their behalf and we will get a packet with checks on the 20th with checks ranging from the seventh to the 20th in that packet.”
Naillon said he wanted to say ‘thank you’ to the almost 200 people who responded to the survey.
“It’s kind of encouraging to know that we can send out a survey in our water bill and get that many interested responses. So that’s where I’m at, I think the responses we got back were pretty honest and yes, there’s a majority that says, ‘it’s fine, don’t change it,’ but there are a few who have valid concerns. I would entertain more discussion on this,” said Naillon.
He said there had been discussion about changing the day it was considered overdue to the 25th of the month as suggested by City Clerk JoAnn Denney.
“Let’s move it to the 31st then, that’s when most bills are due,” said Councilman Richard Werner. “If these are perpetually late all the time, then moving it to the 25th or 31st isn’t going to make a lot of difference.”
The mayor said it would have to be the last day of the month as there are not 31 days in each month of the year.
Warner then suggested moving it to the 1st “as there’s always a first.”
“The ones that are talking about Social Security say that Social Security comes the third week of the month. They’re a little bit later than the 19th due date. So, the 25th really wouldn’t help those folks,” said the mayor.
Naillon said the question would be whether to set it at the last day of the month or the first day of the next month.
Werner said if they moved it to the first day of the month, then the bill would be two months in arrears.
“We’d be better off saying the last day of the month,” said Councilman Walt Hart.
“I think that would validate the concerns of our folks on Social Security. We have a large number of our folks who are on Social Security,” said the mayor.
Councilman Mike Marthaller said that theoretically his check is paid on the first of the month, but rarely shows up close to that date.
“I’ll move that we readjust the past due date from the current 19th day of the month to the last day of the month,” said Marthaller.
The mayor said it took him a while to get it through his head that the 19th was the past due date, not the due date.
“But it’s a mystery how fast that pink slip can get to your house,” he quipped.
Public Works Superintendent Steve Thompson replied, “But that pink slip is hand-delivered.”
Marthaller’s motion received a second from Werner and carried unanimously.