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Ludowici struggles with unpaid bills
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The Ludowici City Council called a special meeting June 29 to discuss ways to address the onslaught of unpaid residential water bills.
Water Superintendent James Fuller Sr., who requested the meeting, went before the council. He said the city has collected payment in full on most of the delinquent accounts, but there are still about 20-25 bills that have not been paid. The people to whom the remaining delinquent accounts belong are unable to pay the bills in full at this time, Fuller said.
 “We (the city) were guilty of letting this get to the point where it is now … now some of these people are trying to work this out and they can’t,” the water superintendent said. “In the past, when something has gone wrong or broken, I’m always the one who gets the blame for it. Everything in the water department is my responsibility … I want to work with the mayor (to be responsible) for collecting these bills on these people.”
City Councilman Frank McClelland Jr. replied, “If you are asking me to let you do my job, as an elected official, I’m not going to do that.”
Councilman Jim Fuller Jr. said, “That’s not it. He’s asking that the mayor and the water department handle this matter.”
McClelland Jr. added, “It’s not right for this (dealing with unpaid water bills) to be on James and just the mayor. That’s not right … we make the rules here, for you to go by”.
Ludowici Mayor Myrtice Warren said that according to the city charter, making decisions on such matters is not solely her responsibility.
She told the group that the city has been working with the customers who have outstanding water bills and the council already decided that customers who don’t pay their water bills by the 10th of each month will have their service shut off until the bill is paid.
McClelland Jr. made a motion to allow customers a 15-day grace period from the due date. Manning seconded the motion and A.A. Billings and Gwen Davis voted in favor. Fuller voted no.
Councilman Johnny Manning said all unpaid, delinquent accounts already have been allowed a 15-day grace period. He made a motion that they should be cut off immediately. McClelland Jr. seconded the motion and Billings and Davis voted in favor. Fuller again voted no.
Another water-bill issue arose when customer Brenda Lewis said she did not think her water meter had been read correctly and consistently. As a result, she said, her bill was not accurate. According to Lewis, her bill was more than $700. She said she lives alone and has no leaks.
Fuller Sr. said Lewis’ meter had been read, but there were problems with it.
“If it hasn’t been getting read right, we need to get it corrected,” McClelland Jr said.
As a result of the discrepancy, McClelland Jr. made a motion that for the time period in question, Lewis’ bill be set at the base rate of $43 per month. Manning seconded the motion, and Billings and Davis voted in favor. Fuller Jr. voted no.

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