Summit County sewer customers have improved their payment record over the past year.
Outstanding bills this year totaled $2.4 million, compared to $2.5 million in 2012. Of the 46,000 accounts countywide, 4,379 were past due. Last year, 4,604 customers were in arrears at the time of the annual audit.
Environmental Services Director Mike Weant said the overdue bills range from $75 on an individual household to as much as $9,000 on a business property.
Sewer customers who use municipal water with meters pay based on water consumption; well water users are charged a flat fee.
The county department sent out letters in June and again in August to notify customers about overdue bills.
Weant said $650,000 has been collected since the letters went out in June.
Each September, the Department of Environmental Services gathers a list of sewer customers who are 60 days or more delinquent and asks County Council to certify the delinquent accounts. The certification means the fiscal office steps in to collect the money by adding the overdue amount to property tax bills.
Weant said his department has little leverage on the collection end.
“We have no way to collect the amount past due on sewer fees. We can’t shut off service like a water, electric or gas provider,” he said. “We don’t use a collection agency or report the unpaid bills to credit bureaus, and if we block the sewer line, we would be causing an environmental and health issue.”
He said such a move also would violate U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules.
Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or firstname.lastname@example.org.