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Mayor ponders policy changes

Paris Mayor Daniel Rogers is considering changing some of the city policies on utilities to make them more business and customer friendly.

He discussed two proposed changes with members of the City Council when it met on Monday, June 2. He talked about another change in an interview conducted later that week.

The first change Rogers mentioned was a putting together a policy that will help residents who owe a large water bill because of an undetected leak.

“Sometimes, a resident can have an extreme water loss resulting in a high bill,” Rogers said. “We’re looking at ways to help those residents if they are unaware of a major leak.”

Rogers said that presently there is no written policy covering that situation and the City Clerk is giving a water customer in that situation four months to pay the bill in full.

“I’ve looked at what other cities are doing and it seems they have a better policy,” he said. “So, I’m going to continue looking into that to see if we can’t find write a policy that helps our residents more.”

Rogers also discussed with Aldermen the city’s policy on electricity deposits paid by businesses.

“I’ve heard of businesses that have had to put up as much as $1,000 or more just to open their business,” Rogers said. “I’m going to take a look at capping that at, say, $500 if I can get the support of the City Council. I want to make it easier to open a business in Paris.”

Rogers is also looking at changing the policy on how long the city can hold a business’ deposit before returning it.

“We hold a business deposit for five years,” he said. “I think that can be shortened. A resident gets their deposit back after a year and that seems more reasonable.”

Although he didn’t mention it at the City Council meeting, Rogers is also thinking about changing the city’s policy on accepting a check for utilities on the cutoff date. The cutoff date is 15 days after the due date unless it falls on a weekend, a holiday or on a Friday.

“Now, our policy prevents someone from writing a check on the cutoff date,” Rogers said. “If someone writes the city a hot check, they can be punished for that. But, don’t punish everyone because someone writes a hot check. If they write a hot check to the city, we’ll find out about it, cut off service, prohibit them from writing a check to the city for a year and turn them over to the City Attorney.

“I just want the city to be more people friendly,” Rogers said. “We need to make it more convenient for people to pay bills they owe to the city.”

Also at the City Council meeting, Aldermen were given an audit report from accountants of Beall Barclay public accounting firm of Fort Smith.

“They reported that the city produced $257,000 in revenue over expenses in 2013,” Rogers said. “The told us our finances looked good and that the city did well in managing its money.”

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