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Customers paying delinquent water bills
Water tank aerial

McMinnville Water and Sewer Department has 150 delinquent customers as of June 1. 

According to information presented by department director Ricky Morton to city officials last month, that number is down from 196. At that time, officials approved a payment plan of half down and the remaining balance spread out of 3-6 months for customers who could not pay the entire balance immediately. 

“We have not had the first person come in and want to pay half and sign the promissory note for the remainder,” said Morton. “Not one customer.”

What sounds like a negative, isn’t.

“Instead, we’d had customers come in and just pay it,” Morton added. “We’ve had four or five call and say ‘Can I pay half now and the other half in two weeks’ which is much better than paying half and spreading the remainder out over three months or more. Maybe people are using stimulus checks to get caught up on their bills.”

On June 1, an automated call went out to the 150 customers who have outstanding balances. That call informed them they had until June 9 to pay.

 If the past holds true, said Morton, most of those people will pay, some at the last possible moment. 

“The call went out on the first. What we normally see is people coming in here the day of, using the night drop box that night or coming in here first thing the next morning. We have a list of 150 customers. That’s a little elevated. It’s not uncommon to start out with 80 to 100. However, we’ve seen a list go from 100 down to 30 within the next business day once the calls go out.”

The department returned to its normal operating procedure June 1. Before that, customers were allowed to delay paying their bills, if necessary, as a helping hand during the pandemic.