The Powell City Council is ending some measures it had enacted beginning in March to help residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the end of May, the city will begin collecting late fees and …
The Powell City Council is ending some measures it had enacted beginning in March to help residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the end of May, the city will begin collecting late fees and charging disconnect fees for its utility customers. It will also resume collecting fees for those paying with credit cards.
In March, the council had voted to suspend the fees as businesses were closed to comply with public health orders intended to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. With so many people unemployed, the expectation was there would be a large number of people in Powell having trouble paying their utility bills. The council suspended the fees in an effort to help them out.
The city also suspended credit card fees since city hall was closed, which forced more people to pay online with their cards.
With the health orders easing and most businesses reopening, people are going back to work.
At this month’s meeting, the council asked Kaela Nelson, Powell finance director, about what she recommended the city do.
“On all three items, we’re ready to get back to normal,” she said.
In the previous billing cycle, the city saw 94 customers go into the disconnect process, which would have previously resulted in a disconnect fee charged. In the most recent cycle, that decreased to 70. With late fees over the past two months, the city saw about $13,000 in suspended fees, which was not a significant jump.
“That’s pretty standard,” said City Administrator Zack Thorington.
Councilor Lesli Spencer suggested the city might see a jump in June as the $1,200 federal eco-nomic impact payments made to individuals are used up. She asked if city staff could alert the council if that happened, so council members could consider reinstating the fee suspensions if there were spikes in people having trouble paying their bills and fees.