Changes to Spruce Pine’s water, sewer policies could be on tap

SPRUCE PINE – Several proposed changes to the town of Spruce Pine water and sewer policies and procedures could be in place starting in July if approved by the Spruce Pine Town Council. 

The updated proposed policies and procedures begin with changes to the consumer’s responsibility for payment. Under the new policy, accounts that have been delinquent for 30 days will incur a penalty of 10 percent, or $5, whichever is greater. Accounts delinquent for 60 days would receive a disconnect notice sent to the address on record. Once a disconnect notice is mailed, all past-due charges would be required before the disconnect date stated in the notice. If payment is not received by 5:30 p.m. on the stated date, a $50 reconnect fee will be assessed, and water service will be discontinued the following day.

The consumer would have to pay all charges, including the reconnect charge, before 4 p.m. to guarantee service can be restored the same day as payment to have service restored.

The proposed changes also include the inability to change an account from an owner’s name to a renter’s name if the account contains an outstanding balance. 

The new, proposed policy also sets a limit on the number of extensions on water payments due to hardship in a year. Under the new policy, only two extensions may be granted to a single customer per calendar year. 

The town also plans to crack down on meter tampering, which town manager Richard Canipe explained has become a consistent problem. 

Canipe said some customers have been purchasing and installing a product from home improvement stores or plumbing shops that allows them to bypass the town’s meter and obtain free water. 

The proposed policy would levy a $100 meter-tampering fee per occurrence, and the customer would also be responsible for the actual cost of repairs to the meter.

Water bills would be mailed during the last week of the month and include the previous month’s usage. 

Disconnect notices would be mailed on the 11th of each month for customers with an account past due for 60 days. 

The town will honor leak adjustments if a leak results in usage above the established norm. Any adjustment is at the town’s discretion. In such adjustments, the preceding 12 months of usage would be averaged and that averaged would be subtracted from the abnormal bill. The remaining difference would then be divided with the town absorbing half and the customer paying the other half. 

The overage would have to be higher than three times the average usage to receive a leak adjustment.

The town will also adjust a maximum of 2,000 gallons off bills to account for customers who run their water during the winter months to avoid frozen pipes. 

The town will send its public works department out for re-reads of the meter at a customer’s request only two times per calendar year, per customer. 

Each additional re-read after two would incur a $25 re-read fee per occurrence.

Additionally, the town will allow for just two cutoffs and turn-ons per year at the customer’s request. Each additional request after two will result in a $25 fee per cutoff. 

The town has also proposed changes to the water and sewer availability and tap fees. If approved, the fees would change for the first time since 2002. 

The proposed fee increases move the cost of ¾-inch inside taps from $390 to $500 and outside taps of the same size from $780 to $1,000.

The cost of 1-inch and 1.5-inch inside and outside taps would increase by $150, and 2-inch, 3-inch, 4-inch and 6-inch taps would all double.

Town council will vote on the proposed changes, as well as the budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year, at an upcoming regular meeting.

The MItchell News

Mailing Address: PO Box 339 
Spruce Pine, NC 28777 
Phone: 828-765-7169
Fax: 828-765-1616