PERRYVILLE, MO (KFVS) - The City of Perryville passed an ordinance that has consequences if you decide turn on your utility meter while deferring payments.
The city administrator said some people are turning the meters back on after the city turns them off.
"We'll put a tag on the meter and say your meter has been turned off this is why, call us if you'd like to have turned back on," Perryville City Administrator Brent Buerck said.
He said it takes longer to get meters back on when the city could be spending time and money on other projects.
"What happens is when people take it upon themselves to then work on that meter they'll often break it or damage it and then we'll have to add more money to fixing it," he said.
The City of Perryville now has a new ordinance to make the process more effective.
"If you don't pay your water bill, and we turn you off, and then you turn the meter back on yourself, it's $100; and the same thing is true for gas," Buerck said. "If we turn off your gas for nonpayment and you go ahead and turn it on yourself, it's going to be a $250 charge."
Perry County resident Shannon Allison said sometimes hard times can't be helped.
"Some situations are brought on by their own personal choices, but some aren't," Allison said.
She said if you're a parent you might go that far.
"Being a parent you're going to do what you need to do to provide for your kids," Allison said.
Peryville residents don't have to pay extra for people not paying their bills, but Buerck said that's why revising the ordinance was important.
"The city doesn't have an aid in source, we're not charging customers to help the non-paying customer, we're not doing anything like that, but there are social services that can help," he said.
Buerck said the ordinance is meant to make the process more efficient.
"To have to go back and check every day to make sure you haven't turned your meter back on is no longer efficient and effective," he said. "So by adding the extra charge it's a disincentive to take it upon yourself to do it."
City leaders said they try to work with people in tight situations if you call them in advance.