City amends policy in response to collection attempts on more-than-decade-old power bills

February 11, 2009



WEST POINT -- An effort to collect old utility bills in West Point has turned ugly, pushing the West Point Board of Selectmen to amend old policy during Tuesday night''s regular meeting. 


Earlier this month, 51 letters were sent out by West Point Light and Water demanding payment from current customers on old bills. Some of the bills were from as far back as 11 years ago and as high as $300. The letters also stated failure to pay any full balance up to $1,001 immediately would result in termination of service. 


Last week, Scott Brents and his family received a bill from 1998 for $244. 


"They can''t prove where I owe on this bill, but they say I have to prove I''ve paid it," he said. 


West Point Light and Water General Manager Randy Jones said the letters are the result of an independent audit from accounting firm Watkins, Ward and Stafford, which recommended more aggressive action be taken against delinquent bills. 


"We normally send bills for a year or more until they are moved to inactive status," Jones said. "In this case we decided to get back into some of the inactive accounts to see if we could locate these people." 


Jones said his staff, using a computer database, matched names of current customers who have bills in inactive status and sent the letters out in an attempt to collect payment. 


West Point citizens also said the utility company''s employees have been treating customers extremely rudely. 


"If that''s the case, that is one thing we are going to nip in the bud," said West Point Mayor Scott Ross. 


Brents'' case and others like it spawned a special meeting of the West Point Utility Committee of the Board of Selectmen Monday afternoon. The committee is made up of Ross, Ward 3 Selectman John Cummings and Ward 5 Selectman Jasper Pittman. 


After listening to the testimony of Brents and Jones, the Board of Selectmen put together the following recommended changes in the wording and implementation of the utility company''s collection policy: