Davenport looking at new program to collect $1.5 million in outstanding sewer bills

DAVENPORT, Iowa - Davenport city leaders are trying to get around an Iowa law to collect on unpaid sewer bills and they could start shutting off customer's water.

The city of Davenport is looking at a new way to collect payment on outstanding sewer bills.

"It's having an impact on our sewer funds so we need to take action," said Alderman, Jason Gordon.

The unpaid bills now add up to $1.5 million. The city is having a hard time collecting the money because of an Iowa law. It created a rental property exemption program which prevented the city from putting a lien on a property with unpaid sewer bills. The city is only collecting about 30 percent on rental properties.

"We want to keep that rate as low as possible, part of that is making sure they`re paying their portion of the bills," said Brandon Wright, the city's finance director.

The city would enter an agreement with Iowa American Water Company. If a customer reaches $500 in outstanding fees the city will give them opportunities to pay their bills over a 12 month period.

"We really want to take that list and identify the most egregious offenders, those with bills that are literally haven`t been paid in over a year and get those folks in compliance and pay their bills like the rest of us have to do," said Alderman Gordon.

If that doesn't happen, the city will have Iowa American Water shut off the customer's service.

The city says low-income customers including the disabled and elderly will be exempt from this program. That's because there are already other special payment plans set up for them.

City council will vote on this program at their next meeting on January 25th.