St. Martinville writing off nearly $30,000 in unpaid utility bills
The St. Martinville City Council last week authorized the mayor to write off $29,836.85 in unpaid utility bills.
It’s could’ve been worse – and usually was, once upon a time.
“It’s a big difference from the $60,000 it used to be,” Mayor Thomas Nelson said.
“I remember when it was over $100,000,” said Councilman Mike Fuselier, the council’s longest-serving member.
There have been efforts on the part of the city administration to educate the public on the root cause of burdensome electric bills – poorly insulated homes and outdated appliances – but the biggest difference was made by simply shifting the date payment is due, said Nelson.
“Changing the date from the 25th to the 4th is helping poor people,” he said.
People on fixed incomes are usually paid early in the month, he explained.
Councilman Craig Prosper noted that while St. Martinville’s delinquencies are running under 5 percent, other cities generally see up to 10 percent.
Prosper said he would still like to see explanations from the staff for bills over $700 in arrears.
Out of 111 defaulting utility customers on the current list, only five owe bills over $700.