SALINEVILLE-In a meeting dominated by discussion of collecting delinquent sewage bills, the Salineville Board of Public Affairs motioned Monday night to potentially press charges against a customer who has repeatedly and knowingly obstructed the water meter at their residence in order to keep it from being shut off.
The BPA has been working to collect the delinquent bills since the fall of 2012. This spring, BPA members determined they were owed about $54,000 in delinquent sewage bills. Since then the board has sent out monthly rounds of shut off notices warning delinquent customers to pay their outstanding balance, set up a payment plan to begin paying on the balance or face shut off of their water.
Board members say that over the summer months they have made some headway towards collecting the debt; however, they could not give an exact figure of how much money remains yet to be collected as of Monday's meeting. They did however motion to send out another 52 shut off notices this month.
BPA members declined to give a name or an address of the sewage customer who could potentially face charges for tampering with and obstructing their water meter, but they stated the individual was one who had set up a payment plan to pay their outstanding balance but failed to make payments.
Board members stated that, on several past occasions, when they sent a village employee to shut off the delinquent customer's water, the employee arrived to find the customer had parked their vehicle over top of the meter so it could not be accessed to be shut off.
"I think it's time to let people know we're not fooling around," said board Vice President Bud Taggert
After some discussion, the board motioned to press charges if the village employee found the customer's vehicle obstructing the meter today. Board members instructed the village employee to bring a police officer with him to document the meter's obstruction and file a report.
Once the meter's obstruction is documented board members will have to take the necessary steps to have charges brought against the customer. Board members stated it is possible several charges could be filed against the customer as there are several sections of Ohio Revised Code pertaining to tampering with a public utility.
The number of sewage customers tampering with their meter and turning their water back on after having it shut off by the village is on the rise, according to Mayor Mary Smith, who was present at Monday's meeting.
"This is happening more frequently," said Smith. She urged the board to establish a permanent policy regarding customers who tamper with their meter.