Swanton stricter on water shut off enforcement

By Drew Stambaugh - dstambaugh@aimmediamidwest.com

The Village of Swanton has started stricter enforcement when it comes to water bills. Water shutoffs will now occur sooner than in the past, leading to some consternation from residents on the village Facebook page.

“For some time, the village has allowed nonpayment to go two months before shutoffs,” said Swanton Village Administrator Rosanna Hoelzle. “The village has had a transition over the past year and we all spent time evaluating processes, across the board, and comparing to the codified ordinances to ensure compliance.”

The section of the codified ordinances that discusses disconnection of service was last updated in 2008.

With the stricter enforcement there were 55 shutoffs earlier this month, compared to a typical average of 15-30 shutoffs for a month.

Meters are typically read the third week of the month, according to Hoelzle. Readings are then manually entered in the utility billing system.

Bills have been generated by a third party company since 2015. After authorization from the village, the company has two days to mail out the bills.

Hoelzle said that company is in Hebron, Ohio, so the bills go to Columbus to sort and are then sent to Swanton. “Village officials do not have control over the time frame after it leaves the third party company,” she said.

The administrator said there are ways to find your account information if you have not yet received a paper bill.

“It is important to remember that any resident can go to the village municipal building in person, call in (419-826-9515) or log into their online account through the village website, and inquire about their monthly statement after the bills are generated if they do not have their paper statement,” said Hoelzle. “The resident also has the ability to have the statements emailed to them and still pay in person or by check.”

Bills are due on the 15th of each month. Once all payments received by 8 a.m. – to account for payments left in the overnight box – are posted, the administrative assistant generates late fee bills for all accounts in nonpayment status.

The third party company once again has two days to send out late fee bills.

“These notices illustrate the date the payment, plus any late fees, must be paid by in order to avoid shut-off. If payment is not received by 8 a.m. by a certain date (all contingent on the calendar but at least 10 days after late fee bill generation) then the account is in nonpayment status,” Hoelzle added.

On that date, the village’s Public Service crews take the list and begin shut-offs for nonpayment of bills.

There could be a reprieve for some customers in limited circumstances.

“In the past, the village has worked with residents as the result of a catastrophic event,” said Hoelzle. She added that those occurrences were the result of the resident reaching out.

There are multiple ways to pay a utility in Swanton, and Hoelzle noted that village officials are on hand Monday through Friday from 8 a..m. – 4:30 p.m. to answer questions related to bill payment.

By Drew Stambaugh