SAWS voids contracts, won’t seek collections

SHERIDAN — Members of the Sheridan Area Water Supply Joint Powers Board decided in executive session Tuesday to offer to void original contracts and not seek collections for three accounts that have not paid a monthly minimum charge since June 1989.

The board went into executive session following its regular meeting Tuesday to discuss the litigation. Dan Coughlin, project manager for SAWS and the county public works department, said the matter required an executive session because it involved contracts.

According to Coughlin, when SAWS formed in June 1988, it asked county residents who could be served by SAWS water to submit applications in order to determine how much interest there was in connecting to the system.
The system was then constructed with public funds to try to serve those who were interested.
Once finished, SAWS offered residents who had submitted an application an incentive to connect to the system.
SAWS offered to waive the connection fee, which is currently $6,088, if potential customers would sign a contract agreeing to pay a minimum monthly fee once water was brought to within 2,000 feet of their house, enabling them to connect to the system. Whether or not they actually connected to the system, they agreed to pay the minimum monthly charge for 3/4-inch service, which is currently $43.70.
Most customers who signed the contract have paid the monthly bill since that time, Coughlin said. Three accounts, however, have been billed but have never paid. Staff contacted the delinquent customers, some of whom then appealed to the board to give up their tap connection to SAWS water.
Board members decided to make an offer to void the original contracts and not seek collection. If, in the future, these accounts wish to connect to SAWS water, they will have to pay the connection fee.
“It’s a win-win for everybody,” Coughlin said because the account owners stop receiving a bill and SAWS gains taps it can sell later. “We had to find a way to resolve the situation that was satisfactory to us and satisfactory to them.”

About

Hannah Wiest is the government and outdoors reporter for The Sheridan Press. She has lived in Colorado and Montana but loves her sunny home state of Wyoming best. She joined The Press staff in February 2013.

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