Today's Paper News Sports Obits Digital FAQ Events Contests Classifieds Autos Jobs Newsletters

Utility shut-offs resume this month

by Helen Wilbers | August 15, 2020 at 3:42 a.m. | Updated August 15, 2020 at 11:22 a.m.
Kathy Holschlag, Fulton's chief financial officer, addresses the Fulton City Council during Tuesday evening's meeting. Despite efforts to publicize the program, as of Tuesday, fewer than 50 of the hundreds of accounts behind on utility payments had taken advantage of a CARES Act-funded aid program.

Fulton residents' reprieve from utility shut-offs is coming to an end.

During Tuesday night's Fulton City Council meeting, council members voted to resume shut-offs at the end of this month, around Aug. 24. They've been suspended since March due to the ongoing pandemic, though customers have continued to accumulate bills. Late fees and credit card fees were also suspended until July 15.

According to Fulton's Chief Financial Officer Kathy Holschlag, customers who owe money to the city were notified shut-offs would resume Aug. 6. The city pushed that date back one last time to give customers as much time as possible to catch up.

"We took a long, hard look at what kind of reimbursements had been made through the CARES Act through (Central Missouri Community Action)," Holschlag said. "I was shocked, when the numbers came out, that we've had 44 customers who've received about $45,000."

Callaway County set aside $500,000 of the CARES Act funding it received for utility relief. Customers could - and still can - apply with CMCA for help to pay off their utility bills. The Salvation Army of Callaway County is also still offering its annual utility assistance.

Holschlag said she believes the city has done everything it can to make customers aware of the programs and help available.

"Everyone who calls worried about shut-offs, we tell them to contact CMCA," she said.

The last round of Fulton past-due notices went out to 421 customers. But with the latest round of bills due Monday, Holschlag said she expected that number to change dramatically. By early Friday afternoon, the city was down to 122 past-due accounts, with $45,846.35 owed in total.

"We've had a lot of money coming in," she added.

Both City Director of Administration Bill Johnson and Ward 3 councilperson John Braun floated the possibility of waiving the $50 reconnect fee for people who are disconnected but then apply for utility assistance through CMCA. However, City Clerk Courtney Crowson noted that would mean people who don't financially qualify for CMCA assistance would still have to pay that fee.

"Wouldn't that be a disadvantage for a customer who can pay a bill on their own?" she said.

Holschlag agreed, noting the city strives to treat customers fairly and equally.

As the shut-off date for August has already passed, Ward 1's Ballard Simmons made a motion to resume shut-offs the week of 24th. The cycle of billing, notices and shut-offs will continue as in pre-pandemic times starting in September.

Customers whose utilities are shut off may still contact CMCA regarding utility assistance. Call CMCA at 573-642-3316 or 573-443-1100 to learn more or schedule an appointment and apply. Customers may also contact the City of Fulton at [email protected] or call the Utilities Billing Desk at 573-592-3111.


Sponsor Content