PUD planning how to handle delinquent accounts
October 7, 2021
A moratorium on collections has ended, and the board of commissioners on Tuesday heard how the Wahkiakum County PUD planned to handle delinquent accounts. The new general manager gave a quick report and asked for feedback on a few things he was working on for the PUD.
Auditor Erin Wilson said that the Washington State moratorium on collections for utilities ended on September 30.
She said about three dozen Wahkiakum County PUD customers are in arrears more than 90 days, and some have not paid their bill for a year and a half. Collectively, they owe about $37,000 for electric, and about $6,600 for water.
The plan is to work with the customers to develop and sign payment agreements, Wilson told commissioners. They will then be billed monthly for the agreed amount.
On January 1, the PUD will return to normal collection practices, she added, which will include late fees, and customer disconnects.
There are several programs providing financial support right now, and Wilson said the PUD had been working with customers who were struggling, trying to “steer them toward assistance.”
“There are a lot of people who get right on it and get really good assistance,” she said, adding that some customers have stopped answering their phone.
General Manager Dan Kay proposed a quarterly meeting with the entire PUD staff, suggesting that the office be closed to the public at those times. Commissioners agreed.
Kay said that there was a potential to meet with legislative staffers and asked if any of the commissioners would like to be in attendance. Kay said the presence of a commissioner would carry weight and could speak to the history of any given topic as it pertains to Wahkiakum PUD.
The answer was yes, but it was also noted that the staffers were always welcome to attend PUD meetings as well, which would allow them to talk to all three commissioners without calling for a special public meeting.
Kay asked for guidance as he begins to seek funding for broadband, noting that the Washington State Broadband Office had opened up funding opportunities on Friday.
“I’ve been very frustrated to see all the other utilities getting grants, and we never do,” Commissioner Dennis Reid said. “I think we have to have you sticking your nose in their business so the broadband office and public works, whoever, knows our needs.”
Kay said that the PUD continued to be busy with customer growth.
“It’s been very busy around here, customer wise,” he said. “We’ve had a little bit of slack time and we’ve been assessing some of the materials we have. We’ve been working on cleaning up the yard, and recycling some of the materials that are obsolete.”
The water crew recently spent some time repairing the water main on the bridge on Altoona/Pillar Rock Road, Kay said.
Negotiations continue with the Western Wahkiakum Telephone Company regarding a pilot fiber project on the east side of the county and an outline for the project has tentatively been agreed upon, though the site location has not been determined, Counsel Tim Hanigan said.