O'Fallon Progress

Shiloh to implement new ordinance for shutting off service for unpaid water bills

Shiloh Mayor Jim Vernier
Shiloh Mayor Jim Vernier

The Village of Shiloh Board of Trustees approved unanimously for the village to enter into an agreement with Illinois American Water company to authorize Shiloh Mayor Jim Vernier to sign the water shut off agreement for non-payment of sewer collection and treatment charges at Monday’s regular board meeting.

Trustee Mark Kurtz was absent Monday, but voted in favor of the proposed ordinance at a previous committee meeting.

The ordinance was recently brought before the board of trustees during a committee meeting on Nov. 28 and had unanimous approval from four of the six present trustees, as Trustees Kurt Burrelsman and Greg O’Neil were absent.

“... It will authorize Illinois American Water company after the appropriate letters have been issued and the appropriate time frames to turn somebody’s water off as a result of the non-payment of a sanitary sewer bill to the Village of Shiloh,” said John Marquart, village administrator.

Shiloh residents receive their water service from Illinois American Water (IAW) and sewer service from the village.

“The time frame is at least 40-45 days, and IAW, because they are a public company that has certain rules and regulations to abide by,” Marquart said. “So essentially, the proposed ordinance will authorize the mayor to sign an agreement that enters into a relationship between the village and IAW to turn water off due to nonpayment once the village has made the appropriate notice to IAW that these folks have not paid their sanitary sewer bill and as a result the water needs to be turned off.”

The proposed ordinance is modeled after current ordinances in the Village of Swansea and New Baden, Vernier said.

“It changes the policy we currently have, section 50.088, and adds the ability to stop service. Basically you are approving the language,” Marquart said.

Vernier said this won’t affect those who have been late once or twice.

“Make no mistakes, we’re not just going to discontinue service when it’s the first time somebody is late with a payment. This is after they are four and five months late,” Vernier said.

Marquart said at the Nov. 7 board meeting to trustees that this is not to catch people when they are late every once in a while, this is for repeat offenders who’ve racked up a large bill.

“We’ve got some folks who are out there that have a couple thousand dollars that they owe us. And in some cases, it’s the same people time after time after time,” Marquart said.

Owning the water system would make matters “easier” on the village, Marquart noted.

“Because it would be ours. There would be no rules or regulations — we could just turn them off for no payment, but we don’t own it. A public company owns it, and they have certain regulations that they have to follow, and this gives us the ability to notify residents that if you don’t pay you’re going to get another bill, then a late notice, then another notice and so on,” Marquart said.

Clarifying to Trustee Bob Weilmuenster and Kurt Burrelsman, Marquart said IAW requires a 10-day period of notice from the village after the 30-day late period, and then the resident needs to be notified again before IAW goes out.

“They only turn off water at certain times. They don’t shut off after 3 p.m., over the weekends or on holidays. There are turn-off and turn-on fees, and all of that would be charged to the resident,” Marquart said.

Weilmuenster said he’d like to see the late period be at least 60 days before the turn-off process ensues.

In cases if the property is a rental, Marquart explained staff tracks down who the owner and the resident/tenants are.

“In some cases the owner may not know since the bill is going to the tenant, and we didn’t have the ability to send the owner a bill, but now, since it’s being done in-house, when we know that it’s a landlord-tenant situation we ask if both parties would like to be notified,” Marquart said. “And, in most of the cases they’ll say, ‘yeah, keep me posted,’ so we can let them know if their tenant is delinquent on a bill then they can put the pressure on the tenant to pay the bill because ultimately it’s the owner of the property who is the responsible party.”

Trustee Tina Warchol voiced her support of the ordinance during Monday’s meeting.

“We have to pay, and so do they,” Warchol said.

Robyn L. Kirsch: 618-239-2690, @BND_RobynKirsch