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SHERIDAN — The Sheridan Area Water Supply Joint Powers Board voted to approve a policy change that will allow certain SAWS customers to amend their contracts and receive temporary financial relief at its meeting Wednesday.
“In the beginning when they formed SAWS, they went out and signed up a bunch of people before the system was built,” SAWS Project Manger Dan Coughlin said. “The deal was those people didn’t have to pay a connection charge, but once the system was built, they had to connect and start using water, or, if they didn’t connect, they still had to pay the minimum fees every month.”
Now, however, there are customers who have paid the minimum monthly fee — currently about $44 — for 20 years and have met their obligation in excess of the current connection fee, Coughlin said.
Prior to the policy change, they had two options to deal with paying for a tap they weren’t using: continue to pay or turn in their tap. Turning in a SAWS tap isn’t desirable because it adds value to a property, Coughlin said, even if it isn’t connected.
With the policy change, customers who meet the qualifications — who have not connected to the system but have paid the minimum base rate since Sept. 1, 1994 — will be treated like new SAWS customers.
“In light of the fact that, if you come in today as a new customer, you fill out your application, you pay your fees, and then you have two years to connect, we just thought let’s offer them to amend their contracts and put them in the same position,” Coughlin said.
If customers choose that option, they will no longer have to pay the minimum fee for two years. However, at the end of two years, they will either have to connect or turn in their tap.