Town council made right move on utility waiver

Daily Journal

When New Whiteland moved its town offices, its mail didn’t catch up with the proper locations for several days. As a result, dozens of customers’ utility payments arrived after the normal due date.

Because of the utility’s rules, a late fee was assessed even though the payments had been mailed well before the deadline. When customers complained, utility employees said they were sorry but were powerless to waive the extra charge. It would be up to the town council to change the rules.

Now residents will receive a one-time pass on late fees tacked on to utility bills that weren’t really late at all, officials said. The New Whiteland Town Council decided last month that late fees incurred by residents in January can be appealed.

About 50 New Whiteland utility customers were charged with late fees after their payments arrived at the new town hall after the due date. But residents pointed out to town employees that they had mailed their payment a week or even two before the town hall received them.

The town hall moved from 401 Mooreland Drive to 540 Tracy Road on Jan. 16, and town manager Terry Spencer asked the post office to start forwarding mail Jan. 20. The Whiteland post office was forwarding the mail from one location to another, causing mail to be delayed by up to 14 days, Spencer said. Since the bills were not received by the Jan. 21 deadline for utility payment, residents were hit with late fees ranging from 76 cents to $6.11.

In order to prove that the bill payment was mailed on time, residents should go to town hall with a copy of a canceled check or money order that was dated on or before Jan. 19. The refund will be applied to the next month’s utility bill, Spencer said.

All appeals must be presented to town officials by April 1.

Some mail is still being sent to the former town hall, but now the mail is forwarded to the 540 Tracy Road location within two or three days, Spencer said.

The town council made the right decision. The customers weren’t to blame for the snafu involving forwarded mail. In this case the checks really were in the mail. The council members recognized this and acted quickly to resolve the matter.

At issue

Payments by some New Whiteland utility customers arrived late because mail had to be forwarded to the new town offices.

Our point

The town council made the right decision to waive late fees for customers who mailed their payments on time.