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Parish to sue customers for overdue sewer bills

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Bossier Parish is being forced to sue delinquent sewer system customers and may even remove their sewer system altogether.

During the Aug. 15 meeting, Parish Attorney Patrick Jackson warned the Bossier Parish Police Jury that he would begin taking customers with rural water systems, those not part of a public water and wastewater system, to court in order to solve outstanding bills.

“Some people are not going to pay it because they’ve never had to pay it before. But some are just in a tough situation,” Jackson said. “We don’t want (to dig up sewers) but I don’t have any other way to collect short of cutting off water, which I don’t control.”

Prior to this, letters are sent to the customer to warn him or her of the penalty if the bill is not paid. It is only after multiple letters are sent that the parish will sue to collect.

“By the time we get to this point, they’ve gotten 15 letters they’ve ignored,” Jackson said.

The customer would then be required to pay the bill and court costs. If the bill is still not resolved in another 30 days following the ruling, it will result in the parish digging up the customer’s sewer.

“If they’re on a public water system that we have a written agreement with, it’s such an easy solution because you can disconnect the water. But when it’s just sewer, that toilet keeps flushing so they don’t really care,” Jackson told the jury.

He said matters will become even more dire if the sewers have to be dug up because the system will begin backing up into the house and would likely result in the Department of Health “mandating they get out of the house.” And the cost is $3,000-$4,000 to reconnect sewer service.

“Likely, the house will be condemned and never be able to pay the $3,000 to $4,000. This is a pretty ugly situation,” Jackson sighed.

He said customers on a public water system that is part of the Bossier Parish wastewater system would see their water service turned off if bills began piling up.

“This is only done if it’s not on a water system,” Jackson explained. “If the same entity owns the water and sewer, and they’re a current water and sewer customer, then we’ve worked with the water system to cut their water off.”

Jackson said he began suits Thursday with six customers. The bills range from $200 to $800.

He has filed 30 suits against parish customers, most of which have been paid.

“They have to prioritize finances. It’s food, rent, and utilities, then everything else,” Jackson reasoned.