Service suspensions possible

 

Water and sewer customers in Stuart soon will have four months to pay up, or services will be shut off, according to a new policy approved Wednesday by the Stuart Town Council.

Residential and business customers can expect to receive a notice in bills slated to be mailed on June 8, stating if they are currently behind in their payments, and the account is not paid by October 9, their services will be suspended.

If services are cut off, any past due amounts and reconnection fees must be paid before service will be restored, according to council on Wednesday.

Current bills also must be paid as past due balances are caught up, according to the new policy approved Wednesday by the Stuart Town Council.

Once accounts are settled, customers who fall behind in their bills will have 75 days to pay any past due balances. Service will be suspended on the 76th day.

Charges listed on the October 9 bill must be paid by the November due date, officials said.

Under an existing policy approved to allow customer’s time to pay arrearages, the current bill was required to be paid in full, with an additional amount paid on toward past due balances, according to discussion at the meeting.

However, some customers paid only a few dollars on past due amounts, and council members said they felt some accounts would remain overdue.

Also Wednesday:

Council members learned insurance costs will increase by 15 percent in the upcoming budget. Mayor Ray Weiland said the increase “will take up a lot” of the surplus the town expected to have. Funds earmarked for a blight abatement program downtown will be diverted to help pay the increased costs of insurance, as will most of the remaining nearly $50,000 surplus initially anticipated. Weiland said any funds that remain will go towards the sewer plant.

The council held a public hearing on the town’s proposed $1.7 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year. No residents attended, and after a brief discussion, council members adopted the budget.

Members heard a brief update about progress on Stuart Fire Department’s new building. Work on the floor plan is complete, according to Chris Corbett, town attorney and member of the fire department.

Council members also gave Weiland the authority to enter into a contract of not more than $6,500 for sandblasting the exterior of a caboose that will be restored and eventually become a centerpiece of a walking trail downtown. The roof, sides, front and rear entryways will be sandblasted, Weiland said. “Basically, everything you can see” on the exterior of the caboose, he added.

The council will next meet at 7 p.m. on June 14.

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