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Residents in Chino Hills will no longer see a due date on their utility bill. Instead, the words “due now” will appear.

Several changes have been made to the city’s billing cycle to comply with a law signed by former Gov. Brown in 2018 intended to minimize the number of Californians who have their water shut off because they can’t pay their bills.

The city council recently adopted a policy that went into effect Feb. 1 to comply with the new law that allows for a longer amount of time before late fees are assessed and a shut-off notice is mailed.

Previously, the bill contained a due date that was 21 days after the billing date. Penalties would be assessed on the 43rd day and service disconnected at 50 days.

“Now, utility bills are due and payable upon presentation,” Finance Director Christa Buhagiar said. “Penalties will be assessed on the 45th day, and service disconnected for non-payment at 60 days.”

Mrs. Buhagiar said the customer’s next bill will arrive within days of the previous month’s payment. 

She is encouraging residents to make a note of the date the bill is received and make a payment within 21 days. For auto-pay customers, payment will continue to be processed 21 days from the bill date, she said.

Under the new state law, water service cannot be disconnected for non-payment until 60 days from the date of the bill, she said.

However, if payment is not received within 44 days from the bill date, a 10 percent penalty will be applied to the account.

The minimum penalty is $10, she said.

A shut-off notice will be generated/mailed on the 45th day. Delinquent accounts not paid by the 60th calendar day after the bill date will have water service discontinued without further notice, she said.

Add languages

The new law also requires cities to adopt a written water interruption policy available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Korean, and any other language spoken by 10 percent or more of the population. 

The policy must be posted on the city website and contain payment options including a plan for deferred or reduced payments and alternative payment schedules, a formal appeals process for disputing bills, and a number to call.

Water service cannot be interrupted if a customer provides certification from a primary care provider that disconnection would pose a health and safety threat, demonstrates they are financially unable to pay, and willing to enter an alternative payment arrangement.

The payment arrangement plan must allow at least a 12-month repayment period for outstanding balances to customers that meet the parameters.

The city estimates costs associated with translation services to be approximately $5,000. 

There will also be additional costs to send shut-off notices in multiple languages.

The policy is available for review at chinohills.org/bill mpay.

Information: utility customer service at 364-2660.

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