During its workshop session, the Henderson City Council discussed the possibility of a study of homes without water that house school-aged children.
The Monday evening discussion was held at the behest of council member Mary Emma Evans. Evans was not present at Monday’s meeting due to health issues.
According to City Manager Ray Griffin, Evans expressed a concern that some children are either dropping out of school or suffering from embarrassment because their homes do not have water.
Griffin noted that a study of the issue would “literally require a census of homes” in Henderson.
The manager went on to restate the city’s position that the billing department has worked with those who have asked for assistance. He said that the city requires only that customers keep the current bill current and continue to pay on the arrears until the entire bill is paid.
Council member Mike Rainey said that he sympathizes with “people who have hard times”, but that he does not know if “it’s our place”.
Rainey said there should be some kind of law to protect “these children”. He then revived his notion of an equal payment plan for water customers.
Interim Finance Director Sandra Wilkerson informed the council that water bills are generally the same each month. Rainey countered by saying that “one or two customers” have called him claiming that their water bill fluctuates between $65 and $110.
Member Mike Inscoe expressed the opinion that there should be a deposit for new customers. He said he hoped that the deposit could reduce the cut-off fee. Wilkerson said that it would take a year to see if revenues would increase with required deposits. Griffin stated that frequently accounts are two and a half to three months in arrears before service is terminated.
The fee for terminating service due to non-payment is currently $40. It is currently assessed when a bill is delinquent over a certain amount of time, regardless of whether or not service is actually terminated.
Council member Lonnie Davis said that the problem is one for social services, and that social services and the schools have the “tools” to “check on this”.
Member Garry Daeke asked if social services has ever called to ask if a house is receiving water service. It was determined that the city could only dispense such information with the written consent of the customer.