Bill gets new lookChanges are coming to your Superior Water, Light & Power bill to improve information provided to city sewer customers about the balance owed for sewage.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
Changes are coming to your Superior Water, Light & Power bill to improve information provided to city sewer customers about the balance owed for sewage.
The Superior City Council on Tuesday approved spending $3,200 to make the change to the utility bill.
The change includes showing the balance for any unpaid sewage fees, in addition to total balance and the interest rate charged by the city for the unpaid balance.
While these are positive changes, Marty Curtiss said they don’t go far enough.
“Kevin (Peterson) and I felt strongly that Superior Water, Light and Power bill should explain how the city sewage portion could be paid separately and directly to sewage if a person wished,” Curtiss said.
The changes won’t advise utility customers that they can designate a partial payment to cover the sewage bill instead of gas, electricity or water — utilities provided by Superior Water, Light & Power that can be turned off if payments are in arrears.
Unpaid sewage fees — collected by SWL&P on behalf of the city by contract — can be placed on property owners’ tax bills.
That can create a problem for landlords when tenants don’t pay their utility bills. While utility charges — for gas, water and electricity — remain with the tenant until paid, city sewage fees are placed on the tax bills of property owners.
“Because sewage is always the last portion of the bill to be paid, this results in high sewage bills being placed on the real estate tax bill,” said, Curtiss, a landlord in Superior.
Reading from a letter signed by SWL&P customer service and electric operations manager, Bill Fennessey, Curtiss noted the requested language to advise customers they could pay their sewage first was rejected by the utility.
“Superior Water, Light & Power Company does not support the requested modifications, as we believe they could have a potentially negative impact on the collection of amounts due from our utility customers,” the SWL&P letter states. “In addition, some of the proposed changes imply that it is acceptable for customers to pay less than the full amount billed, which is not an accurate or appropriate message.”
Curtiss said the city and SWL&P have an obligation to explain their payment policies on the bill.
“The simple request … is to send it back to finance (committee),” said Superior businessman Kevin Peterson. He said approving the request would cost the city $3,200 and additional savings could be netted with minor changes.
Councilor Mick MacKenzie said this has been an issue under discussion for a long time, but he didn’t believe sending the matter back to the city’s finance committee would make any difference.
“We’ve made some strides here,” MacKenzie said. “Marty said something about the interest rate (reduced from 18 percent annually to 12 percent annually) and we got that straightened out. There were some billing issues that Superior Water Light did and there’s this last thing they just don’t want to do.”