THE WATER PREPAYMENT PLAN.
The Bradley Beach, N. J., Commissioners have gone on record as opposing a rule adopted by the Monmouth County Water Company requiring the company’s customers to make payment in advance for water consumed, and one of the arguments made by Commissioner Poland, who introduced the resolution, is of particular interest in that it in reality presents one of the strong arguments showing the justice of the company’s attitude. Commissioner Poland remarked that while there might be some justification for applying the prepayment rule to transient customers it was unreasonable to require advance payments from permanent residents of Bradley Beach. Now, to require advance payment from some and not from all would necessitate two different and separate plans of bookkeeping, adding materially to the office work of the company and to its office expense—unnecessary additional work and expense. There is considerable to be said in favor of prepayment, especially in localities such as Rradley Beach, where there is a large class of transient water consumers. Water for domestic consumption is one of those things which, when once delivered, cannot be recovered in the event of non-payment. A consumer who finds himself unable to pay a water bill cannot return the water. For the water company, or department, to be dependent only upon legal proceedings such as liens is inviting a great deal of proceedings out of proportion to that suitable to the business and the profits concerned. With a utility serving goods that, because of character, cannot be replevined in case of non-payment, some method of security for such utility should be permitted that will not work an unnecessary hardship to the utility. In the Bradley Beach case, it appears that the State Public Utilities Commission had approved the company’s rule, but the Borough Commissioners in the resolution adopted stated their intention to “take such action as is necessary to attack the validity of the rule.” It was intimated the Borough’s course of action might lie in a formal appeal to the Commission, or in a Supreme Court action. The outcome of this matter will be looked for with interest by water works managers.