Water bills now due 10 days earlier
Cape Coral customers of the city’s water utility will soon have to pay their bills 10 days earlier to avoid a late fee.
City Council members voted unanimously Monday to reduce the due dates on water bills from 30 days to 20 days, effective Jan. 15.
Councilmember Pete Brandt sponsored the ordinance after receiving several complaints from customers who were getting a second bill before the previous one was due.
Some members of the public, however, said that 10 days could mean a lot to people struggling to get through the economic crisis.
“In these economic times, there are people out there that are really hurting. To cut that time frame down to 20 days can be a real hardship now,” Cape resident Lynn Rosko said.
John Sullivan, founder of the Cape Coral Minutemen civic organization, asked council members to find another means of fixing the billing problems, and suggested expediting the billing process.
“I agree with what Ms. Rosko said. Have we examined another way to do this?” he said.
Despite sponsoring the ordinance, Brandt said he wasn’t happy with how it was worded.
“I haven’t even thought until today that it would hurt people. When I read the wording of it I said, ‘Gee, that’s not the way I wanted to do it,'” he said.
Ultimately Brandt accepted city Financial Services Director Mark Mason’s explanation that reducing the due dates would help the utility.
Mason pointed out that water utility bills used to be due 15 days after they were issued before the city extended that period to 30 days four years ago.
“The longer we give people to pay, the worse the utility will be over time,” Mason said.
Mason also asked for the effective date of the ordinance, which was supposed to go into effect immediately, to be changed to Jan. 15 to allow for ample time to notify the public.
Those who miss the public notice, however, will be granted a grace period for the first month if they don’t pay within the 20 days.
“We’ll forgive you for one month for that 10 days,” Mason said.