Utility late fees to resume in June for Savannah residents

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Beginning in June, the City of Savannah will once again enforce late fees on utility bills, after a major backlog of water bills disrupted the billing process for thousands of customers last year.

City officials stopped enforcing late fees last year when back log bills were still being issued but I'm told now all the kinks have been worked out and late fees are once again being enforced.

It's a story WTOC has been covering for months, 80,000 city residents slammed with steep water bills after the city's new billing system failed to make a smooth transition from the old system.

Normally, residents receive a total of six bills per year but in 2016 folks only received five bills, which is why bills seemed higher than normal. Over the last couple of months, city officials have not enforced late fees and have been working out payment plans for residents who couldn't afford to pay their entire bill at once. But now, officials say things are back to normal.

"The calls have dropped off. The tweets have dropped off. The emails have dropped off. We've been able to address everyone and we've gotten some very, very good responses from that. We still have some people who are unhappy, we understand that but things happen when you have a system with as many moving parts as this," said District 4 Alderman Julian Miller.

The late fee policy will go into effect beginning June 1. That late fee will be either $5 or 10 percent of the current bill amount, whichever is greater.

After that, a bill reminder will be sent with a payment deadline. If the balance is not paid then, an extra $50 administrative fee will be added.

If the deadline is passed with no payment, service will be cut off.

"We had some implementation problems and we've been up front and transparent about that and we've gotten through all of those issues. We now have the bills going out regularly and now it's time to get back to business," said Alderman Miller.

For more information from the City of Savannah Utility Services, please visit the official website.

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