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Council changes process for collecting water bills

The Common Council approved a plan Tuesday that will alter how the city collects its water bills next year.

Under the plan, residents will pay for the water they used closer to the time they used it.

Because of the change, residents will see one of their quarterly bills in 2008 increased as bills catch up to consumption, Council President Brett M. Sommer said.

Under the current system, the city doesn't see payments for water bills until several months after the water is used.

"We've always been three months behind," Sommer said.

The proposal also keeps water rates at 2007 levels while increasing late fees by 5 percent for residents who have unpaid quarterly bills placed on their tax bill at the end of the year.

The change was made to give the city more cash on hand at the beginning of the year.

This year, the city had to borrow $3.5 million because of limited cash flows. The city had accumulated $60,000 in interest when it paid back the loan.

City officials look to make the same changes for sewer charges in 2008. The Council began the process for approving legislation on the matter Tuesday.

Mayor Lawrence V. Soos also has proposed changing the way the city collects taxes each year. Under Soos' proposal, city taxes would be collected in January.

Residents also would have the option of paying half their taxes in January and half in June. If residents choose to split their payments, a small but yet undetermined additional charge would be levied. The proposal has not been finalized.

In other city business, the Council denied a rezoning request for 778 Sweeney St. Paul Setlik, the property owner, wanted the zoning change that would allow apartments or garages to be built there.

Setlik said he had an offer to purchase the property from a landowner who operates nearby apartments.

Neighbors had been outspoken in opposition to the proposal. They raised concerns about drainage and possible changes to the character of the community.


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