Gateway Sun

The yellow “Tag of Shame” could be on its way out in Gateway.

As things presently stand if you don’t pay your water bill on time someone from the Gateway Services Community Development District staff will hang a yellow tag on your door as their final reminder that you need to pay up or your water service will be shut off soon.

Interim GSCDD Operations Manager April White would like to see the entire tagging practice come to an end.

The penalty for being “tagged” is a $10 charge on your next water bill, but apparently that fine wasn’t being enforced in all cases due to software difficulties.

And now after crunching the numbers, the GSCDD staff have concluded that the yellow tag concept should be replaced with a late notice by mail.

From White’s memo to the Board of Supervisors that will be considered at today’s district meeting: “200 door tags take 6 staff members at an approximate cost of $352.”

Problem.

There aren’t 200 delinquencies each billing cycle. As we have written several times in the past, there’s typically 400.

The Gateway Sun has learned that the district’s former Financial Analyst implemented a plan that only people with a balance of $150 or greater would get tagged – cutting the tagging revenue by 50% from $4,000 to $2,000 per billing cycle.

Worse, even people who owed less than the $150 needed to get tagged would still get disconnected without receiving the prominent disconnect notice.

The whole $150 minimum thing seems strange because if you’re tagging even 200 people you’re likely visiting all areas of Gateway anyway. Why not tag everyone who’s delinquent and double your money while covering the same amount of ground?

The answer seems to be that the GSCDD staff simply didn’t enjoy the task, so they decided to cut it in half. It is not clear if former Operations Manager Scott Connell (or the Supervisors) approved this practice.

A chart that the staff prepared for the Supervisors says that to place 200 tags took 25 hours of labor. I highly doubt there’s anything more economically productive that the district staff could do for the residents than to be tagging people who are late on their water bills. 200 tags at $10 each taking 25 hours is $80/hour. Tag on, tagga!

Nevertheless, White believes it’s more economical to mail out all 400 late notices. She said it would cost $281 in labor and mailing costs.

Assuming the $10 late fee stays, it’s a win-win.

The district will generate $4,000 in fees for $281 instead of $2,000 in fees for $352.

And most importantly, if your water bill is delinquent for less than $150, the GSCDD will actually warn you before shutting off your water.

If the $10 fee will be scrapped along side the yellow tags, then this is just the district staff wiggling their way out of a task they hate doing.

About Jeff Kuntz

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Editor of the Gateway Sun and owner of restaurant delivery service Florida Food Runner.

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