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Columbia’s utilities revenue woes continue

Gov. Roy Cooper’s Executive Order 142, issued May 30, states that “A Utility Service Provider shall not bill or collect any fee, charge, penalty, or interest for a late or otherwise untimely payment that becomes due from the date of this Executive Order. Customers shall be provided the opportunity to make reasonable payment arrangements to pay off over at least a six (6) month period any arrearages accumulated during the effective period of this Executive Order.”

The result in Columbia has been that 39 residential accounts were past due as of June 30 compared with 15 such delinquencies a year earlier. The town has 321 residential utility customers.

The past due charges for March amounted to $3,400, April was the same amount, and May rose to $4,389. Penalties on these overdue accounts cannot be collected.

As of July 6, Town Manager Rhett White reported that past due bills amounted to $15,679 plus uncollectable penalties of $2,074.

These shortfalls in Water/Sewer Fund revenues come on top of the closure last December of Tyrrell Prison Work Farm and the earlier departure of Whitecap Linen Service, the town’s largest utilities customers.