Town wants overdue bills paid

Some Oak Creek residents owe more than $900

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— Anyone with overdue electric bills in Oak Creek can expect a bright red sign on their doorknob today.

After discussion at Tuesday's budget meeting, the Town Board decided to make several changes to the management of its utilities. The first step is to collect thousands of dollars in overdue bills that have gone unpaid for months.

"We have not been enforcing our own laws," Oak Creek Treasurer Jo Dee Stordal said.

The red signs will be printed up today.

According to records, some residents owe more than $900 for electricity.

"It's ridiculous. It's insane how much we are owed," Stordal said. "The problem is that winter is about to come and these bills will go through the roof."

The red door hangers will alert customers that past due amounts must be paid by 9 a.m. Monday or electricity will be cut off.

There will be no exceptions, Stordal said.

"We are trying to eliminate selective law enforcement in Oak Creek," Stordal said. "Essentially, taxpayers are carrying these people because we still have to pay for the electricity they use."

Beyond the decision to crack down on customers who do not pay, the board also discussed changing the due date schedule for regular billing.

Currently, bills are mailed on the first of every month and payment is due by the 10th. Late fees are charged for bills still unpaid by the 15th.

According to an ordinance the board plans to pass at the next meeting, payment will now be due on the 15th and late charges will occur on the 20th.

"The problem is that, for example, teachers in Oak Creek get paid once a month on the 17th," Stordal said.

So many residents have been paying late fees that the town is already $6,388 over budget in 2002 from electricity revenues.

The town hopes to implement the new pay schedule by Dec. 1 the same time as the town plans to switch accounting software.

Electric rates will not go up next year, the board decided, but the town still plans to see greater revenues from electricity because of possible residential growth and the use of a new gym facility at the high school.

The Town Board and staff will continue to review the budget over the next few weeks. The next meeting will be Tuesday at Town Hall.

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