MUSKOKA LAKES - Muskoka’s door tag system for unpaid water bills sets seasonal residents up for being robbed and is “not efficient and draconian,” says the mayor of Township of Muskoka Lakes.
Mayor Alice Murphy interrupted a financial and budget review presentation on Friday at the emergency services committee meeting for the District of Muskoka to voice her complaint about the door tags placed on residences with overdue water bills.
It’s very disconcerting to arrive at home to see a door tag hanging that says the water will be shut off in a number of minutes or days, said Murphy.
She said it didn’t seem like she was particularly off on her payments “and suddenly I’m delinquent and about to not get a drink.”
Water bills for the district are delayed for 60 days. That means they’re sent out 60 days after the billing period. Customers then have about a month to pay.
Murphy told an amused committee that the door tags are a particular problem for seasonal residents.
“Now for sure the whole world knows I’m not at home,” said Murphy. “I’m now at risk for getting robbed and I come back and I’m out of water.”
Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith jokingly warned the mayor.
“Not only will you not be able to have a drink of water, you won’t have any glasses to drink out of because you’ll have been robbed blind,” he said.
The District of Muskoka turned the water off at 718 residences in 2011. Fifty per cent of those were because the residents had not paid their fees. The other 50 per cent were seasonal residents who requested their water to be turned off during the winter.
If the water is turned off for non-payment, residents are required to pay $20 to have it turned back on.
Presenter Julie Stevens, director of finance for the district, said she encourages anyone who’s had a door tag to use pre-authorized payment for their water bill.
“Usually it’s just that’s it’s been forgotten — it slid through the cracks, it’s in your mail pile,” she said.
Stevens reassured Murphy she’s not the only one receiving a door tag.