New method will make paying water bills easier

Andrew Bergman

Kent area homeowners and renters have a new method they can use to pay their water bill -ÿa direct debit option that takes out payments automatically.

A form is available in the Tree City Bulletin requesting address, account and banking information that will start the automatic monthly account deductions.

A representative from the Utility Billing Division said this has been a good method for people pay their bills on time because they do not have to remember to send a check each month.

Other institutions, such as Ohio Edison and Time Warner, offer direct debit bill pay options as well, but Karen Duffy, vice president and general manager of Huntington National Bank in Kent, said the key to managing money still revolves around the ability to budget spending.

“A utility company will tell you how much money you owe and when,” Duffy said. “You need to make sure the money is there on time.”

To prevent problems with this, Duffy suggests roommates open a joint account in all of their names to put equal responsibility on each of them.

Students often rely on their roommates to give them enough money to make the bill payments on time. Duffy said she advises that the person who is responsible for the bill trusts and knows his or her roommates. She also said to call the bank that the check is from to make sure there is money in the account.

If a bill-paying roommate cashes a check issued from a secondary roommate with insufficient funds, the bill-paying roommate will be assessed a fee for trying to cash a bad check. If this causes his or her account to be short of funds when the utility company cashes the payment check, another fee can be charged for the overdraft of the account.

While not paying a bill on time can have an affect on your credit rating, an overdraft on an account can create a snowball effect that can continue to put an even bigger negative balance on an account.

Duffy said any automatic payment, direct debit or online payments from a bank does not mean you should not pay attention to your money.

“Call the utility company to make an arrangement,” Duffy said, if it is known that funds will not be available. “[Bill-payers] have to be involved with a direct payment to a utility company.”

Contact public affairs and off-campus reporter Andrew Bergman at [email protected].