Closing hits utilities budget

Published 9:01 pm Tuesday, February 21, 2006

By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
NILES - The Niles Utilities Department could see a significant loss in revenue this year, Jim Lehmkuhl said Monday afternoon at the department's meeting. The manager of the utilities department was referring to the closing of the Vertis facility and the nearly $370,000 in revenue it could cost the city.
Vertis was a rate four customer, which means they were one of the largest electric customers the city has, Lehmkuhl said. There are only about three other companies similar in size to Vertis, he added.
The department also discussed plans to modify electricity shut-off notifications. The city currently sends out red postcards to customers whose electricity is nearing a shut-off date.
The department said there are mixed opinions among customers about the post cards. Some feel the red notices are an intimidation tactic by the city, said Sandy Naugle, assistant finance director. Others have said they appreciate the notices because they serve as a reminder. Around 50 of the notices are sent out each week, she added.
One option being considered by the utilities department is printing a shut-off date on the monthly bill they already receive. The concern with the changes is educating the customers on the transition if the format is changed.