Lapel vows to use law to collect on utilities

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LAPEL – Faced with an  ongoing problem of delinquent utility bills, the Lapel Town Council said it will now be more aggressive in its efforts to recoup money owed to the town.

During its late August council meeting, the council voted unanimously to levy tax liens on several property owners for over-due sewer bills and send utility and gas bills to other offices for collection.

“We can only do liens for the sewer bills,” council President Gary Shuck said.

Some residents at the meeting said they have been forced to pay bills left behind by renters before new renters could have utilities turned on in their names.

Town clerk Paula Lee said that’s the law, that it doesn’t matter if a property is owner-occupied or rented, the owner/landlord is responsible to pay outstanding utility bills.

Some outstanding bills are in the hundreds of dollars, Lee said. One is about $1,500.

Lee said she felt hampered in winter month when properties are vacated before utilities are turned off and before new tenants moved in.

“We can’t turn off the heat and water when it’s cold. The pipes will freeze,” the clerk said.

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