Utility payments owed to Peru down to $15,000 after months of focus

Total of delinquent charges sat at $70,000 two months ago

The city of Peru has continued to tackle it’s ongoing problem of residents with outstanding utility charges over the past few months.

Peru Clerk Dave Bartley first reported in April the city was owed around $70,000 in delinquent accounts. Over the past few months those on the council and within the city have delivered warnings, asking for those in need of assistance to reach out for help.

Bartley said about June 3 the city reported around $45,000 in outstanding charges and on June 23 the number had continued to decrease to about $19,000.

As of Monday, Bartley said the city has $15,432.76 in delinquent accounts, which is a nearly $55,000 decrease from a few months ago.

City officials said many times they understood the effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on residents in the community and asked those in need to reach out to the city offices to set up a payment plan to cover the costs.

“We’ve made excellent progress,” Bartley said. “It’s honestly hopeful because a lot of people did have a hard time getting through it and this is an indication that times are better for people and they’re getting caught up.”

Bartley also mentioned it is encouraging to see residents getting caught up during the summer months where electric bills are commonly higher.

About a month ago as the total number began to decrease, the council said it may be forced to take action in the form of disrupted service, a measure many saw as a last-ditch effort.

The city did have to use the service disruption option in some instances as some of the remaining totals were transferred to landlords, foreclosed on or changed hands.

Some of the totals funds tied up in foreclosures will be able to come out as the process moves forward according to city officials, but overall the total has continued to move downward over the past few months.

“We’re really moving in a positive direction,” Bartley said. “The ability to use the service disruption has been helpful for the city.”

Alderman Tom Payton and others on the council thanked Bartley for his work with city residents and continuing to bring the total down.

Jayce Eustice

Covering local government, breaking news and whatever is thrown at me for the La Salle News Tribune