Gone are the days that no one comes knocking on the doors where city property owners have neglected to pay their sewer and trash-collection bills. Soon, the knock could be followed by a dry faucet.
Starting next week, York City officials will begin mailing notices to dozens of delinquent sewer/trash customers who risk the loss of running water if they don't pay up.
The worst offenders -- many of whom owe thousands of dollars -- can expect to receive notices soon.
But, under the city's new policy, an account just 30 days overdue will be subject to the water shutoff process, said business administrator Michael O'Rourke.
"We're not going to let new accounts grow a delinquent balance while we focus on the big amounts," O'Rourke said.
Anyone with an outstanding account balance could receive water shutoff notices as early as next week because the city is going to choose randomly among the hundreds of overdue accounts, O'Rourke said.
In other words, a property owner who owes $100 is just as likely to receive a notice as one who owes $100,000.
Amnesty period: Monday is the last day to take advantage of a month-long amnesty program that has allowed customers to settle overdue bills by setting up payment plans or paying off the balance without interest -- which accumulates at a rate of 18 percent.
O'Rourke figures the city is owed around $18 million in delinquent sewer and trash bills. While the city has in the past reported the accounts to credit agencies, little else had been done to collect.
The city rolled out the amnesty program April 1 in an effort to compel overdue customers to pay up. So far, O'Rourke said, the response has been
Of about 4,500 delinquent accounts, he estimated, more than 1,000 have been addressed in the past month. Mostly, customers have set up payment plans, O'Rourke said. But there have been some who paid off the balance.
How it works: A condition of every payment plan is that the customer pay the full amount owed each month plus an amount toward the outstanding balance, O'Rourke said.
The city hasn't kept a running tab of the money collected, but that information could be available next week, he said.
O'Rourke acknowledged the potential for hardships caused by the new policy. But, he said, officials have "a duty to the other customers and to the city citizenry in general to make prudent efforts to collect what's owed."
Is there any wiggle room for folks on fixed incomes or families with young children?
"We are open to considering extenuating circumstances," O'Rourke said. "We're not monsters here."
-- Reach Erin James at 505-5439 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ydcity.