The Town of Smithfield has changed the date when they will add penalties on delinquent utility bills. Last month, there were 245 utility customers who had past due balances.
Under the old policy, utility customers were charged a past due penalty one day after their utility bill was due. In recent town meetings, some council members expressed concern over the policies and the penalty being assessed the first day after the due date.
In August, at the urging of Councilman Travis Scott, the board requested town staff create a draft ordinance that would push the start date on late-penalty fee from 1 to 10 days after the due date. During the September monthly meeting, the draft policy was presented and adopted unanimously.
Under the new policy, penalty dates will change from the 6th to the 15th for customers on the first billing cycle and from the 21st to the 30th for those on the second billing cycle. While due dates will remain the same, the date the penalties are assessed for outstanding balance has been pushed out to allow customers more time to pay without being assessed a late payment penalty.
Prior to the change, late payment penalties created about $200,000 each year in revenue to the Town of Smithfield. The electric department received about $125,000 and water and sewer another $75,000 in penalty revenues each year. It is unknown how the new extended late penalty fee date will impact those numbers.
The updated late penalties ordinance goes into effect with the September bill cycles.