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City's grace period for paying assessments shorter
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MONROE - Residents with special assessment bills to pay will now have 60 days instead of 90 to pay their bills, but the 60 days will be a true grace period.

In the past, if payments were not received by day 91, residents were charged interest from the date of the billing. Monroe charges 7.5 percent simple interest on unpaid bills.

The new grace period will be implemented for all assessments levied for work done to properties starting in 2007. Assessments are levied on sidewalk installations and repairs and on street improvements.

The change comes as a result of the new city accounting program which does not calculate "back interest." City Accountant Casey Bradley said those charges must be entered manually and individually.

City Treasurer Cathy Maurer told the Finance and Taxation Committee on Tuesday she and Bradley discovered when they received training on the new accounting program that Monroe was the only participating city that calculated back interest.

The 60-day grace period was a compromise which came out of committee Tuesday.

Committee members identified two problems in changing the "90-days or accrued interest" options.

Committee member Dan Henke said the city would be giving up revenue on 90-day overdue bills. Member Mark Coplien said 30 days is considered the normal grace period. Both considered 90 days too long for a grace period.

Alderman Thurston Hanson challenged both of them, saying any interest charged was "bordering on usury" in view of the fact that "not many people are in favor of special assessments."

Henke offered a 60-day grace period, with interest starting to accrue on day 61, as a compromise.

The City Council unanimously passed the resolution Tuesday.