City won’t charge for delinquent utility bills

POULSBO — The checks were in the mail, really.

But somewhere on the way from point A to point B there was an unscheduled drop off at point C. Confused?

So were some 75 Poulsbo residents who mailed checks to the city for water, sewer and garbage on time but still received a notice of delinquent payment. Soon after city hall sent the notices, staff there got an earful.

The checks had been sent, customers asserted, and while such snafus are not unheard of on a small scale — 75 calls later, the city had no choice but to reconsider.

“Knowing that wasn’t our fault or our customers fault we decided to give them an extension until Feb. 20,” explained finance director Donna Bjorkman, citing the finance committee’s recommendation made last Wednesday on the matter.

Delinquent notices were initially mailed to the customers on Jan. 20, she added. Payments postmarked after the twentieth of each month typically incur a 10 percent penalty, Bjorkman said, noting that this additional cost would not be sought.

“This is not a gift of public funds,” she told the committee. “We don’t want to penalize customers who actually paid on time.”

“So, this is unprecedented?” councilman Ed Stern asked.

“Yes,” Bjorkman responded.

But city hall isn’t the only Jensen Way business that is coming up blank on the matter, according to the finance director.

“We called the Post Office and they couldn’t give us an answer,” she said. “(The checks) haven’t cleared the banks, either.”

The citizens have since been contacted and asked to stop payment on the original January checks.

“They’re lost now but they may still show up,” Bjorkman said.

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