Tahlequah Daily Press

March 17, 2014

TPWA lets customers sign late payment agreements

By SEAN ROWLEY
Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Sometimes it can be a struggle to meet monthly bills – especially if the household budget absorbs a sudden unexpected expense, or one is unemployed or changing jobs.

The Tahlequah Public Works Authority offers payment agreements to customers who are having trouble paying their city bill.

“When your bill is due and you can’t pay it in full, we can give an extension of time,” said Gail Dotson, TPWA office manager. “It must be with the individual who owns the account. A customer might sign a contract for a bill that is $100 past due, agreeing to pay $100 by a particular day, or allow an extension. We usually do not extend the period beyond the due date of the next bill, but this can allow a single bill to go 25 to 28 days before it comes up for cutoff.”

Extreme weather can also create wiggle room for delinquent accounts.

“If there is brutal heat, we are going to be more lenient about cutoffs and getting people caught up,” Dotson said. “We actually don’t want to cut people off any time of year, but sometimes we have no choice.”

An example of “no choice” cited by Dotson is if a cutoff date arrives on an account and the customer has not contacted the TPWA to explain the situation.

Dotson said reconnection after cutoff can be expensive. Deposits for new TPWA accounts are $200 for electric, and $400 if the home has no natural gas service; $50 for water; and $150 for natural gas.

If service is reconnected after a cutoff, there is a $50 reconnection fee. Also, a further $50 deposit is required for each reconnection, to a maximum of three times the account’s highest bill.

“We want to encourage people who can’t pay their bill, under any circumstance, to come in to our offices before the cutoff date,” she said. “Take that opportunity to set up a payment agreement.”

srowley@tahlequahdailypress.com