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City announces changes to website, delinquent water bill collections
Duquesne residents can expect changes in the way the city does business, with officials announcing a “soft opening” for the municipal building, planned website upgrades, and some procedural changes with delinquent water bill collection.
At Tuesday’s council meeting, City Administrator Kelly Robertson announced that the municipal building would again be open to the public as of June 1, after being closed for more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those who visit the building will be required to wear a mask and adhere to social distancing guidelines. Public restrooms would not be available.
“No one will be able to leave the lobby,” Robertson said.
Councilwoman Elaine Washington was supportive of the move — restrooms or no restrooms.
“As long as we open up,” she said.
Robertson also told council that efforts would soon be under way to make the city website “a little more active.”
She said she would be working to make the site more interactive and user friendly, with changes that would allow residents to file complaints, ask questions and — if council was amenable to the idea — email elected and city officials directly.
“As a council, I don’t think that’s not too much to ask,” Washington said, adding that residents deserve at least that much from their elected representatives.
Another change residents need to be aware of? The way in which the city deals with delinquent water bills.
Citing a growing number of chronically delinquent accounts, Robertson announced that moving forward, Duquesne would be taking more aggressive actions to get those bills resolved.
From now on, once residents receive notice that their account is delinquent, they will be required to pay the bill down to a zero balance to avoid service shutoff. While residents can still request a payment plan, there will be some changes there, too.
Robertson said that accounts that have been delinquent on a previous payment plan will not be afforded another, and that account balances of less than $300 would not be eligible for a payment plan.
She said the city will work with residents but stressed that Duquesene had to get the delinquent accounts “more under control and in hand.”
Councilman Scott Adams acknowledged that even though it’s a tough situation, the moves are necessary.
“We need to get some of this money back in the coffers,” he said.
Amanda B. Gillooly is a freelance writer from Neville Twp. whose work has also appeared at Patch.com, the Beaver County Times and the Observer-Reporter of Washington, Pa. She may be reached at email@example.com. This is her first byline for Tube City Almanac.
Originally published May 26, 2021.