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story.lead_photo.caption Kathy Holschlag, Fulton's chief financial officer, addresses the Fulton City Council during a previous meeting. On Tuesday night, she informed council members that utility shutoffs have resumed. Photo by Helen Wilbers / Fulton Sun.

Fulton's utility disconnections, on hold since mid-March, have resumed.

From now on, shutoffs and fees will continue as usual, with disconnections taking place on or around the 25th of each month.

"We don't like shutting anybody off," Fulton Director of Administration Bill Johnson said.

Assistance is still available for those struggling to keep up with utility bills due to the ongoing pandemic.

"We had a total of 169 people on the shutoff list, which is an all-time record," Fulton Chief Financial Officer Kathy Holschlag said.

But not all of those customers were shut off, she explained during Tuesday's Fulton City Council meeting. The city made extensive efforts to contact delinquent customers and notify them of available aid.

"By 5 p.m. on Aug. 24, we still had 83 people who had not paid; that's what was on the list we sent to the police station," she said. "Probably a week later there were 43 left."

The city called each customer for whom they had a working phone number and took door-hangers to the rest on the list with a message about the two locally available aid programs.

"As of this morning, which was arrangement shutoff, the second shutoff of the month, we still had 24 accounts that were not paid," Holschlag said.

She suspects many of those accounts belong to tenants who have moved away without contacting the city.

"When we made the calls, we did hear from a few landlords who said, 'Oh yes, they moved a few weeks ago,'" she said.

Ward 1 City Council member Ballard Simmons said it sounded like the city has gone overboard to try to notify customers of the availability of aid.

Utility disconnections and late fees were suspended in mid-March in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its financial toll on residents.

Assistance

Central Missouri Community Action and SERVE have utility assistance programs — the former funded with federal CARES Act money and the latter by The Salvation Army.

For the CMCA program, those eligible include any household adversely affected by COVID-19 with an income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. They can apply for assistance paying electric, water, sewer, gas, trash or internet arrears. To receive assistance, applicants will be asked to sign a statement saying they have been financially impacted by COVID-19.

Applications for utility assistance are available through the Callaway County Family Resource Center at 610 Collier Lane in Fulton. Further questions can be directed to CMCA at 573-642-3316 or 573-443-1100.

SERVE's program has more flexibility with income eligibility. Those in need of help may apply through the SERVE office (4901 County Road 304, Fulton; 573-642-6388).

Additionally, those who are behind on their utility payments may contact the city of Fulton Utilities Department to set up a payment plan; call 573-592-3111 for more information.

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