Cookeville is making changes to its services and costs for utility customers starting this week.
Finance Director Brenda Imel said service fees on all utilities will increase from $10 to $20, the first time this has changed in over 20 years. Imel said the service fee increase was needed for what it costs to send workers out to customers.
“The service charge is to cover the cost of sending a gentleman out or service person out to establish service and read the meter,” Imel said. “That cost has increased over years, so we’re just trying to recover our costs there.”
Imel also said that disconnects for non-payment will no longer happen on Fridays and reconnecting will only occur during normal business hours. She said there is no longer a fee for being disconnected from a utility. However, she said there will be a new $40 fee to reconnect.
“We didn’t want them out in the field after dark, after hours late at night, on private property providing this service,” Imel said. “It’s just too much of a risk for them. So, the trade off is we’re only going to do cutoff on Monday through Thursday, but you can get cut back on if you make your payment, but we’ll turn you back on just during normal business hours.”
Imel said setting up text and email alerts are a good way for customers to know when payment is due. As well as enrolling in their auto-draft payment system.
“With our new online system, a customer can set up alerts and reminders to remind them to pay their bill,” Imel said. “It can do it so many days out and remind them of when their due date is.”
Another change is for customers application fees in Cookeville. Customers can be exempt from the application fee, if they have satisfactory credit and a minimum of three years of consecutive service with the city.