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New Register council member owes $900 on town water bill

               While the town of Register is fighting financial woes, one of the town’s council members is over $900 in arrears in paying a water bill.
        Kevin Boyd’s last day as a Register Town Council member was Dec. 31, but his wife, Tonya Boyd, was unopposed in the election to fill his vacated position. As of Thursday, the Boyds owed the Register water department just over $924.
        Both Kevin and Tonya Boyd said Thursday they intend to pay the bill in full.
        “I’m embarrassed,” Kevin Boyd said, adding that he was told by a town employee “not to worry about it” and that water service was a “perk” enjoyed by council members in exchange for the services they provide the town.
        But, when the bill grew to current proportions, Boyd said town officials reminded him of what he owed and he began making payments.
        Register town clerk Rhonda Deloach, responding to open records requests, said Boyd made a payment of $20 this week and that Tonya Boyd tried to pay the bill in full Wednesday. However, the town is not equipped to handle credit or debit card payments, and Ms. Boyd wanted to use her card as a form of payment, she said.
        Tonya Boyd said she had not known the bill was in such arrears.
        As an incoming council member as of Jan. 1, she said she is also embarrassed by the situation.
        “I was unaware we had a water bill that high,” she said. “I promise you that will be taken care of.”
        Helping the town become better is a priority, she said, and she hopes to start her first term as council member in good standing. “If the town of Register needs help, I volunteer,” she said, adding she has always helped in the community garden, in decorating the town for holidays and has “never done anything except to make the town better.”
        Most other council members, including Mayor John Williams, have zero balances on their water bills, or have credits, according to records provided by Deloach. One council member, Ann Ross, owes just over $69.
        The town has a few other high unpaid bills – one elderly woman owes $1,213, another resident owes over $1,000 and a third owes around $600, Deloach said.
        Residents who make efforts to pay on their overdue bills are afforded the opportunity to retain water service while making payments, she said
        Over the past several months, Register has experienced budget issues and financial challenges that have led to the hiring of a Georgia Municipal Association consultant to help decipher possible bookkeeping mistakes.
        The town also voted unanimously last month to suspend its police department due to William’s claim that the police department’s revenue collection bumped the city into a higher bracket as far as accounting costs and state add-on fees. He also cited unnecessary expenditures and said the town has had difficulty in covering payroll.
        Council member Barbara Rushing said during the Dec. 29 meeting that the town has other areas that need “tweaking” regarding spending.

        Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

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