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Probe: May 22, 2001

May 22, 2001

QUESTION: They are going to raise our water bills $3.60 a month in Brawley. I am on disability and I don't know how I am going to pay it. My monthly bill is $78 a month.

As it is I am juggling my bills every month, paying some bills and paying a two-month bill the following month on others. My Social Security income is $725 a month.

This month I paid the current bill and last month's bill. I got behind because I had to pay a $262 electric bill. The water clerk told me I can only do that once a year. Why can't I do it again if I need to do it? — Juggler, Brawley

You probably can. City Finance Director Fred Selk said there is no written policy that says you can't. However, that is an expensive way of paying your bills.


If you are just a few days late, there is a $2.50 late charge. If you let the bill run a month late, you will be hammered with another late charge, this time $10, or a total of $12.50 for the month.

It's not going to get easier because you're going to have big electric bills until October.

If it looks like you can't pay your bill on time, call the city water department and ask for an extension. It's unlikely the city will cut you off, Self said.

OK, now some good news.

The increase under consideration is $3.25 for your sewage service, Selk said, and it may never be increased. We can see how you might consider that a water bill hike. Water and sewage are on the same bill.

Some seniors are having hard times …

KEEPING TRACK OF IID BALANCE — I have been on Imperial Irrigation District's bill averaging plan since 1995 and it works for me because I keep up with it.

I can see how some people might get a nasty surprise. When they had the old computer system, they put the information at the top of the bill and you could keep track of it.

When they went on the new system in 1999, the bill showed a previous balance. That lasted just a few months until they dropped the previous month's balance.

Now mine shows a zero balance but that may not be true. I could be way behind and never know it. I have a friend with a rental. Recently she got a $400 settlement bill.

I pay a "monthly average" of $86. I can usually skip a month and still come out all right at settlement. I have a $314 credit. You would never know it looking at my bill.

I go into the IID office or call on the phone. They can bring up my account with just a couple key strokes on the computer and let me know where I stand. Since they can do that on the office computer, why can't they put it on the monthly bills? — Averaging, Brawley

Thank you for your perspective.

INFECTED TEETH — I have many infected teeth that need to be removed. The dentist wants $2,000 before he starts the work.

My Social Security is $300 a month and there are other health costs. While I am trying to accumulate $2,000, the toxins from my infected teeth continue to enter my system. — Aching Gums, Brawley

You didn't give us a phone number where we can reach you. There may be a solution for your dilemma. Call us at 337-3448 and leave a message and your phone number on our voice mail.

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