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Village board discusses delinquent water bills

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - Updated: 10:05 AM


C-S-E Editor

ST. JOHNSVILLE -- The St. Johnsville Village Board has scheduled a special, public meeting for Tuesday, March 4, at 6 p.m., to hold a budget workshop and discussion regarding delinquent water bills.

The village board, during Tuesday's meeting, discussed what steps must be taken to begin collecting delinquent residential water fees. The village currently has $86,000 in unpaid residential water bills.

The village board has had to continuously borrow money from other places to make up for the $86,000 gap.

The current set of rules and regulations regarding water bill collection, and punishment for non-payment, was implemented in June, 1912. Attorney Norman Mastromoro stated, "I know -- we all know -- that various boards have adopted rules and regulations which very well should be incorporated into the rules," though it doesn't appear that regulations have been altered since their initial implementation.

Mastromoro suggested that the board alter section 27 of the document, presenting a newly worded version for review.

Village board members reviewed the collection practices in other villages, contacting Nelliston Mayor Donald Yerdon to learn a neighboring municipality's process, which involves a letter going out with a final pay date, with the termination of service taking place after ten-days of non payment.

Mayor Bernard Barnes said that water shut offs won't occur until May, 2015, even if the village board adopts new wording for section 27 during the March 4 special meeting.

"This gives people time to pay the bills that are due, and we'll shut it off next May," said Barnes, noting that water shut offs don't occur in the winter months. Since readings are normally done in September, the shut off dates for inactivity would likely fall in October, which is too close to winter.

"We're trying to be fair. We don't want to shut anybody's water off," said Barnes.

The board also discussed how they can potentially get up to date regarding code enforcement officer-issued permits. 

Code Enforcement Officer Wayne Horender said that many village residents have completed work without following through on their permit's required steps, thinking that as long as they paid and received initial paperwork, the project could commence, even though it's boldly stated that work should not begin until all steps are properly followed, including an inspection and accumulation of pertinent information by Horning.

New York State law outlines fines for the various code enforcement offenses, and the village board decided that Mastromoro should send letters out to those who completed work improperly, alerting them of potential fines.

The village board commended the St. Johnsville Fire Department for bringing the department up to date, submitting over 300 fire reports that were past due, also purchasing state mandated turnout gear.

"It's costing us money, but we knew that going in," said Barnes of the updating process.

The board also commended the village DPW for their recent work, including quick sidewalk cleanup for businesses.


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