BRAWLEY – At their regular meeting of January 7, the Brawley City Council voted 4 to 1 in favor of granting National Beef a waiver of a late fee that was incurred for non-payment of their utility bill.
As one of the largest water and wastewater consumers in the City of Brawley, National Beef pays over $250,000 per month to the City in utility fees.
The City had not received the September-October payment and its usual assessment of 10% by the 15th of the month and .5% by the 22nd of the month was billed to National Beef.
The Late Penalty Assessment was $25,637.24.
National Beef was notified by email that the payment had not been received.
National Beef responded that a check had been mailed in a timely manner.
The check was never received and was assumed lost by the United States Postal Service.
National Beef asked for a waiver for the fee because it had mailed the check on time and that it had a record of paying on time.
Staff notified National Beef that it could not waive the fee because it has no policy to do so.
National Beef was also notified that they would have to appeal to the City Council for the unprecedented waiver.
The Council concluded that the City Staff had done their job in assessing the penalty and that there was no waiver for fees in the City’s policy and to do so would set a negative precedent for other utility users.
The Council discussed that there should be a set of circumstances in the policy that addresses waivers and agreed to have staff come up with ideas for the Council to consider in revising the policy.
Brian Webb, General Manager and Vice President of National Beef California, Inc. said, “From now on, we will walk our checks into the Brawley finance office to avoid this from happening again and not depend on the Post Office.”
The Council voted 4 to 1 in favor of the waiver for National Beef as a one-time courtesy because of their excellent paying record and that it was such a huge sum.
It was noted that National Beef does other things for the community and the region, other than being the one of the biggest employers in the area.
Sam Couchman was the dissenting vote.