Meeting routine financial obligations may be a challenge to many Stillwater residents as the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic continues.
To provide some temporary relief, the City of Stillwater suspended disconnections for nonpayment of utility bills and waived late fees during the sheltering-in-place phase of the pandemic.
“This was the compassionate and right thing to do,” Deputy City Manager/CFO Melissa Reames said. “However, we want to make sure our utility customers understand that ‘suspension for nonpayment’ is not the same as a ‘bill forgiveness.’ You will have to pay the amount due on your bill.”
For the City to be able to provide essential services like water, electricity and public safety, people need to pay their City of Stillwater utilities. Since the pandemic began, the City of Stillwater has seen nearly a $500,000 increase in the balance of utility accounts over 60 days old. “If this amount continues to grow, it affect how we provide city services.”
According to Utility and Billing Services Director Dana Mattox, the City offers a payment plan option for people who get behind on their bills. Payment plans can be made by calling 405.742.8245, no additional trip to city hall is required.
“We understand what people are facing,” Mattox said. “We want to work with you one-on-one and get you on a path to clearing that debt, but you must take that first step and set up a repayment schedule.”
It was precisely this kind of once-in-a-life financial hardship that made Congress pass the personal stimulus money that people are now receiving.
Personal financial experts are telling citizens to use the one-time $1,200 stimulus check and any tax returns to pay their outstanding bills.
Reames knows many families are having to make tough decisions and wanted to thank those who are keeping the City utility bills current. “It takes all of us to keep citywide programs and services going.”
To contact Utility and Billing Services, call 405.742.8245 or email email@example.com.
See how the City’s finances are predicted to be affect by COVID-19 and our plans for recovery at http://stillwater.org/news/view/id/557.