Monroe to resume water shutoffs for late customers this spring

Monroe will end its moratorium on water utility shutoffs for delinquent or non-payment of bills starting next month.

During a discussion at Tuesday’s Monroe City Council meeting, council members reached a consensus that the moratorium that was initially instituted during by an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency statewide order the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic will come to an end on March 15. Council also adopted a motion Tuesday not to begin water shutoffs for delinquent city water customers until May 1.

The OEPA’s order was terminated in July, but Monroe council reinstituted the water shutoff moratorium in August in an effort to assist residents and businesses who were struggling during the pandemic.

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As of Jan. 31, 2021, there were 156 water accounts that were eligible for disconnection, said City Manager Bill Brock in his weekly update for council.

In that update, Brock reported as of Jan. 29, there was a total $102,256 outstanding in overdue bills owed to the city.

The update also reflected:

  • 21 accounts having balances over $500 accounting for 35% of the total balance due.
  • Two of these accounts are residents with balances of more than $1,250.
  • Two are businesses owing $2,500.
  • One of these accounts is a business with a balance that owes $7,000.
  • There are 122 accounts that are more than 120+ days delinquent.

In his update, Brock said the city’s past practice was not to do disconnections if temperatures are forecasted to drop below 32 degrees overnight or if the shut off falls on a holiday week. He said state law prohibits disconnection of service if the disconnection would occur on a day that is not followed by a staffed working day for reconnection of service.

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During Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Jason Frentzel said the council Finance Committee recently discussed the water shutoff policy. He said the committee felt, “some people are struggling and there are others who may be taking advantage of the situation.”

“If a resident is struggling, the city can set up a payment plan on a case by case basis,” said Finance Director Karen Ervin. “There are other options and Butler County has some assistance programs.”

Several council members said if a resident works with the city to address their delinquent accounts by setting up a payment plan, they can avoid a water shutoff. They also agreed to wait to begin water shutoffs until spring.

“We want to work with people, but this cannot go indefinitely,” said Councilwoman Christina McElfresh.

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