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By Anne O’Connor

PEPPERELL — Gone are the days when residents could let their water and sewer bills remain unpaid.

“People are heeding the notice that they have to pay their bill,” said Ken Kalinowski, director of the Department of Public Works.

A big push to collect past-due amounts that began in August and September 2014, along with some follow-up in the spring, reduced the percentage of uncollected accounts. At the end of fiscal year 2015, 20 percent were overdue. Now that percentage stands at seven, said Water and Sewer Superintendent Joe Jordan.

Before he took the position about a year and a half ago, Jordan said there was really no consequence if a bill was not paid. Some customers had not paid a bill in years, it just went to lien.

Pepperell began to send out monthly notices when a bill was overdue. Businesses are billed quarterly and residents get a semi-annual bill, Jordan said.

Even with monthly reminders, some bills remained unpaid and a shut-off policy was implemented, Jordan said.

“Our goal is not to shut people off, just to get them to pay their bill,” he said.

Over the course of the year, about a half-dozen accounts were shut off, he said. Most were reinstated within a day or two. The only accounts that are still not on are for abandoned properties.

Last year, maybe 280 properties went to lien, he said. This year there were about 60.

“All in all, it’s been rather successful,” he said. “I give credit to the staff.”

Follow Anne O’Connor on Twitter and Tout @a1oconnor.

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