Disconnections loom as another month-end approaches during shutdown

After having their late fees waived and cut-offs on hold through the month of April, utility customers of the City of Monroe, the City of Loganville and Walton EMC are now facing another month end with many of them still not able to earn a paycheck. The City of Monroe has advised their customers that they will need to at least make their April payment by May 4 or face disconnections.

“City Council approved a waiver of late fees and disconnections to run from March 26th through April 30th. Utility bills subject to the waiver of late fees will continue to have the fees waived even if partial payments are make through May 31st,” said Monroe City Administrator Logan Propes. “Essentially there is a timeframe of bills not subject to late fees and a timeframe going forward now that have utility bills subject to late fees. We still want to encourage customers to pay their bills so they do not end up with extremely large balances. The waiver of the late fees and disconnection fees was not a waiver of the entire combined utility bill.”

Propes said a regular extension is still available to all residential and commercial accounts with no failed extensions within the past 12 months that will extend them seven days past the normal cutoff date.

“Senior Citizen, SSI & Disabled citizens extension is available to all residential accounts 62 years of age and over and with a household income less than $23,540 annually. The utility service has to be in the name of the Senior Citizen, SSI recipient or disabled person. This will extend them 14 days past the normal cutoff date. The Senior Citizen extension is ongoing, so once they sign up it is monthly and they don’t have to sign up again. This extension is not charged late fees each month,” Propes said, adding, “Any disconnections will only begin to be processed on May 4th.  They will then be done in cycles based on due date and disconnect date that is printed on their bill. Everyone will not be cut off on May 4th.”

Propes said the city offers highly competitive rates and some of the most liberal extension programs around for utilities, pointing out that the City of Monroe still must pay for the utility services  provided to customers.

“Electricity and natural gas are contractually bought from our producers, we produce clean water at our water plant, wastewater must be processed and treated daily, solid waste is still handled and disposed of at a landfill and the various telecommunications are purchased from the providers. All of these utility and service contracts must still be paid by the city before paying for the employees that deliver the services,” he said. “We work hard to keep these costs down and will continue to provide excellent service.”

Robbie Schwartz with the City of Loganville said the Loganville local Emergency Order was extended through May 22, which will hold off disconnections of water services for city residents until at least after that date.

“Until that order is rescinded, we are not cutting off water services to any resident nor are we applying late fees to bills,” Schwartz said. “That being said, customers are still responsible for paying their water bill and once the local emergency expires, we will return to utilizing our normal utility service policies.”

Disconnections and late fees are still on hold for customers of Walton EMC.

“Right now everything is still the same: disconnections are suspended and late fees are waived,” said Greg Brooks with Walton EMC. “We will advise when anything changes.”

Stimulus payments have been paid to many citizens who have direct deposit accounts on records, but for those who don’t, the check may still be in the mail. Also, some who applied for unemployment have received payment, some even a bonus with it, but others were either denied or are still waiting to find out if they qualify. Now with a full month without a pay check, making that utility payment could present a problem for those who have not received either. Faith in Serving Humanity does help out in cases where someone is deperate. Cindy Little, executive director for FISH said there is a process to go through in order to qualify for assistance, but the organization is in a position to help if necessary.

“Right now our biggest expense is keeping homeless folks in motels and feeding the children. Homelessness and feeding the children is a huge expense, but we’re steady,” Little, said. Assistance can also be given to help navigate the government system for those who may qualify for receipt of stimulus money or unemployment insurance but have difficulty doing so.

Shepherd Staff in Loganville offers similar services to help in the Loganville area for someone who may be in desperate circumstances and the Partnership for Community Assistance can also help with a one-time utility bill payment for those who qualify. Click or tap on this link to find out how to apply.

The phone number for FISH in Monroe is 770-207-5601 and for Shepherd Staff in Loganville is 770-554-9722.






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