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Unlock meter; pay big fine

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By The Staff

By CINDY SIMPSON

rccindysimpson@bellsouth.net

Oliver Springs officials are serious about stopping people from using their water without paying for it.

The Oliver Springs Board of Aldermen passed a $250 unauthorized usage fee last week to charge people who

illegally hook onto the water system by unlocking meters.

Town Manager David Bolling said many water customers whose meters have been locked off due to nonpayment of bills are simply cutting off the locks and resuming their service.

He said the town could technically charge these individuals with theft of service. However, he said he believes the fine might be a strong deterrent.

In some cases, water meters are damaged when the customers cut the locks. In those cases, offi-cials want the violators to also pay for the meter.

Aldermen Maurice Walker made a motion to impose the $250 fine if someone alters or bypasses the meter.

“If they damage the meter they pay for the meter also,” he added.

That was not enough for some officials.

“I’d like to make it a little stronger,” Aldermen James Brummett said.

He asked Judge Joe Van Hook how much it would cost to prosecute violators.

The city judge said the cost would factor in investigation, filing a warrant and having an officer available to be in court.

Other officials pointed out that the fee does not eliminate the possibility of prosecuting the offender as well.

Van Hook did question how the city would prove that the customer was the guilty party when a me-ter lock was cut.

Bolling said in one case a water customer who came to pay his bill at the water department admit-ted to cutting the lock on his meter.