LETTER: City Coffers Filled On Backs Of Needy

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Is Woodbury’s government by the people and for the people, or is it against the people?

Is Mayor Harold Patrick looking out for the people of Woodbury and the surrounding community, or is he making sure he gets a paycheck regardless of the people’s concerns?

On Wednesday evening (Feb. 23rd), we came home to find our water turned off. The valve wasn’t locked so I just turned it back on.

First thing Thursday morning (Feb. 24th), my wife called Woodbury city hall to check on the problem.  She spoke with a very nice young woman who said a payment had been posted on Feb. 22nd, and that there was nothing to worry about.

We came home on Thursday evening (Feb. 24nd), and again found our water cut off.  However, this time, there was a pin in the valve which prevented us from turning it back on again.

Fearing that something was still wrong with our water account, we searched our check book and could not locate a payment.  We searched everywhere for a bill and could not find one. Finally, after going through a stack of newspapers and magazines that were for the trash, we found the bill under the flap of a magazine.

The bill stated that the bill was due on February 10th. So yes, we were overdue. I went up first thing Friday morning (Feb. 25rd) and paid our bill, plus a $25 connect fee.

We typically pay our bills on time and our credit score is excellent, so this is a bit of an unusual situation for us.  However, we did some checking to see if cutting off water after only 12 days is a common practice for other communities.

We are originally from Houston, Texas so we checked their policy. After some research, we determined that the policy in Houston is to let a bill ride for three months before cutting off the water.  Given the smaller-than-postcard size of the bills and how easily they might be lost in the mail, this seems like a reasonable policy.

Our son just moved to the Woodbury area from Tucson, Arizona and stated that the policy in Tucson was to let it ride for four months. Cutting our water off after only 12 days, with no dunning bill, no phone call, no warning of any kind, seems like a government run amok, a government against the people, rather than one for the people.

Our hearts immediately went out to all the people on Woodbury city water living in Cannon County who might be struggling in these difficult economic times. Luckily, we are not in this situation, but what if we were required to make a decision between food for our children and paying the water bill on-time?

The decision is easy but the consequences are not.  We would then be required to pay a $25 connection fee to have our water restored.  For some of us, this might be $25 we don’t have. What if it was actually a responsible but struggling family and their water bill was lost in the mail like ours? This is not a respectful and serving way to make sure the city’s coffers are full.

Unless this policy is changed, let’s remember the name Harold Patrick so we know which box NOT to click next election day.
Elroy Sullivan, PhD
1581 Cunningham Road
Readyville, TN  37149

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February 28, 2011 at 2:09pm
There are rules everywhere concerning late payments. If you don't like their policy I suggest you move back to Texas or Arizona where the policies are more liberal for you to handle.
February 28, 2011 at 2:16pm
It seems like a gentleman with enough education to put "PhD" after his name would be smart enough to implement automatic payments.

"Looks like we're not in Houston anymore!"
February 28, 2011 at 2:31pm
"City Coffers Filled On Backs Of Needy?"

What does this scenario have to do with the city coffers? Even more, what does it have to do with Harold Patrick?

This seems to be a simple disagreement on the policy termination deadline of the water department. Why not mention the water department manager if you want to attack someone?

p.s. I don't know Patrick, so I'm not defending him. This just seems like a poorly contrived letter.
February 28, 2011 at 3:05pm
You didn't mention the water rates for the Huston and Tuscon areas, but compared to what other counties in this area charge Woodbury is much cheaper. If they upped the rates on everyone maybe they could afford to leave water on longer for those who forget to pay on time. I'm no PHD. I'm just saying.....
February 28, 2011 at 3:21pm
I just love it when someone tells you how great it was where they used to live. Makes you wonder why they ever left.
February 28, 2011 at 3:27pm
This is absurd. If you don't pay your bill, then your water should be cut off. Let it go for 4 months!?! If a person can't pay one month's water bill then what reasoning would suggest they can pay 4 months of water? My goodness. Use some common sense. The problem in today's society is people expect to get something for nothing.If they didn't cut water off I wouldn't pay my bill either. No one would. Furthermore, I seriously doubt the city mayor has any control over the water department. If I'd been the editor of this paper, I'd have thrown this in the trash.
February 28, 2011 at 3:52pm
Now wait a minute...why are we attacking this person? This is not how we should act here in Cannon County. I agree that Harold Patrick or the city coffers has nothing to do with this situation but to attack a person and tell them to move back to Texas now that is uncalled for. Is this how we treat outsiders?

I will say that all policies are different in each area. Other Tennessee towns operate the same way. If you do not pay your bill in a timely fashion or make an attempt to make arrangements for paying the bill they will shut it off. Small towns are more strict on the policy because of the small budgets they have to operate on.
February 28, 2011 at 4:04pm
"Now wait a minute...why are we attacking this person?"

Pretty good question. It has been my observation that people do so because it is easier than debating the merits of an issue. However, that is also somewhat true of the letter writer, so it is likely the opinion posters are responding in a defensive manner.
February 28, 2011 at 4:14pm
You are probably right. Thank you Kevin. Recommendation: In the future wait to write your letter of complaint until your emotions have settled down, then you are able to debate the topic with a clearer head...lol
February 28, 2011 at 4:51pm
I personally think someone is suffering from low "PH"d

Such a bad watered-down joke going down the drain.

I agree people could be nicer when someone is frustrated, critical and can't seem to come to terms with the terms...

Collect rainwater.

You can use this until the water pressure is still on.

I am not being flippant about this suggestion as many people I know practice this technique...
February 28, 2011 at 6:00pm
Dr. Sullivan,

I suggest you run for mayor during the next election and if elected you can run the water department like Houston or Tucson. And maybe you will have a personal secretary to help you keep track of your bills and payments.

Welcome to Cannon Co.

TnTnTn, CSR(common sense redneck)
February 28, 2011 at 6:36pm
Dr. Sullivan, I understand that some of your point of this issue was an honest and caring one and of compassion towards folks having financial difficulty. I feel that way also. But, I have long learned that if some one you know is in need and you know about it, you should help. But there are some folks you can't help because they will abuse the situation. I appreciate your thoughts of kindness. As far as the mayor is concerned, he will be there a long time, no one wants that job. Welcome to Cannon county we do appreiate your tax dollars.
February 28, 2011 at 6:45pm
Yes..it's pretty much how alot of ppl around here treat ppl if they are not "from here". Sad but true.
February 28, 2011 at 7:42pm
Good talk, keep it up this is the way you make new rules and change old ones.
February 28, 2011 at 7:56pm
Collecting rain water is an excellent idea Jeff. Especially in the summer. You can use it to water your plants, animals and help save on your own water bill all at the same time. I have easy instructions on how to make a rain barrel if anyone is interested.

Also, I agree. Let's have a little patience with PhD from Texas because everything is supposedly bigger down there and I guess that includes the time you have to pay your bills.

I do think it was far fetched suggesting Harold had anything to do with it. I don't think he is sitting at the water department asking the girls what customer is late so he can run turn their water off.

Actually, that assignment falls on one of the city workers who are simply following the rules. And that rule has been in place long before Harold took office.

PhD I would suggest you learn the rules of Cannon County, Tennessee and let Houston, Texas take care of itself if you plan on staying here. It might save you some grief later on!

And by the way, YEE HAW and welcome to Woodbury!

Corey D
Masters in B.S.
February 28, 2011 at 9:08pm
Did you ask why you were told that a payment had been posted on the 22nd?
February 28, 2011 at 10:38pm
The water bill is due on the 10th of every month, but u have till 5pm on the 19th to pay or it will be turned off. Nine more days should be enough time to come up with any where between 17-30 dollars to pay your water bill. I myself come from a family of four with one paycheck, but I am able to come up with the money to pay the bill. Sometimes it is late, but I make sure it is paid before the water gets turned off.

We as Cannon Counth residents should be nicer to outsiders, for those who are from some where else may not understand our policies. Every state and county has different policies to go by.
February 28, 2011 at 11:17pm
I agree the water dept. is very quick to cut the water off. I thought it was cut off on the 19th, but either way there is not much time if you are late or have an unexpected expense come up. I would think a reasonable time would be one month late. Most people with common sense don't want something for nothing, but anybody can make a mistake and forget to pay for whatever reason.
March 01, 2011 at 7:02am
By: daisy on 3/1/11. The public works director. should give courtesy call like MTEMC and DEKALB. we can all forget at times in the busy way of life. If Mr. Paschal has time to set in the water office hours at the time, he has time to set up courtest call. but he will not he is to busy talking to the girls in the office for hours.
March 01, 2011 at 8:02am
If you have an unexpected expense come up, I am sure if you call and explain the situation there will be a note put on the account. You must also make sure you explain the arrangements for when you plan on making up this payment. This is true for every bill or debt. Communication is the key. Letting them assume something has happened will not work, because often they assume that you do not intend on paying your bill. Experts in money management will tell you the same thing.
March 01, 2011 at 9:26am
The water bill has always been due on the 10th of each month. It comes on the 1st like clockwork. I agree the billing "postcard" is not the best, nor is it the most private. However, that is the way the town of Woodbury has decided to bill me so I just have to deal with it. I still have to pay it anyway. Mr. Harold Patrick is a wonderful man and is absolutely looking out for this city, and also the county for that matter. The Courier has printed many articles about him and what he has done. However, the fact is, Mr. Patrick has OR had nothing to do with the water bill. As far as the complaint process goes, did you not also read where the City Council put a procedure in place to handle complaints such as this. It seems a little extreme to go to the top when this could more than likely have been resolved. The reason that the City officials put this in to place is because each of the leaders has a specific job to do and the "troubleshooting" can most likely be done while they concentrate more on efficient operations and furthering the economy. While it is good to do research, please compare apples to apples. Tucson and Houston are CLEARLY not the same as Woodbury. This town and county operate on a very small budget. Check the figures the next time the Courier prints them. Again, do not point the blame at Harold Patrick, he has nothing to do with it. I suggest signing up for auto draft through your bank.
March 01, 2011 at 7:27pm
Efisk....for the record the water company does not make any exception for emergencies or unseen expenses.. If you call for an extension they will tell you, it's due by the 19th or cut off on the 20th, NO EXCEPTIONS...
March 02, 2011 at 3:39am
i dont have 2 pay a water bill as i use well water but i do think a friendly reminder would be better than shutting it off
March 03, 2011 at 11:27am
boo hoo hoo i had to pay 25 dollar
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