The Town of Pierson’s COVID-19 reprieve on penalties for late water bills are no more.

The Pierson Town Council recently voted unanimously to reinstate water late fees and shut-offs that were waived in 2020 due to COVID-19.

“We implemented this because of COVID, and the initial start of COVID. Some people couldn’t work, some people were sick,” Mayor Samuel G.S. Bennett said. “I think we’re a little different now. Things have changed in regards to that.”

The decision came after the town forgave most of an outstanding water bill totaling more than $25,000 at a Town Council meeting earlier this month.

The fees had accumulated on four rental homes owned by ZSZ Investments LLC on Richardson Lane in Pierson. Previous tenants had left outstanding water bills, ZSZ Investments representative Zulfikar Jaffer told the Town Council, and he had only just been made aware of the bills, which date back to 2015.

When forgiving large water bills, the Town Council typically waives late fees — which made up most of the $25,000 bill — and provides a 50-percent forgiveness on the remaining balance. In total, Jaffer was tasked with paying $2,767.62.

Water Department head Vice Mayor Robert F. Greenlund took a look at the rules on the books for water and brought the changes to the Town Council at its Jan. 25 meeting.

The rest of the Town Council was in favor of the idea.

Things are different than they were at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, some on the Town Council said.

“Everybody’s hiring now, so everybody should be able to have a job right now,” Town 

Council Member Sergia Cardenas said. “I could have two or three if I wanted to.”

The changes to the water bills will go into effect with Pierson residents’ January water bills.

Late fees will resume being charged, but residents who forget to pay their bill will be afforded a five-day grace period. If a Pierson water customer has an outstanding balance for more than 90 days, they risk shutdown of their water. First comes a warning, and then, after three full days, their water will be shut off.

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