Short-term changes… Elizabethton City Council calls emergency meeting in regard to COVID-19

Published 12:04 am Friday, March 27, 2020

The Elizabethton City Council convened in a specially called emergency meeting to hear on first reading an amendment to authorize City Manager Daniel Estes to initiate necessary adjustments to water/wastewater and sanitation services so as to assist customers who are being impacted by the virus pandemic.
It also will allow Estes the ability to develop policies to assist customers and ratepayers of the Elizabethton Electric Department who are being impacted by the current pandemic as well.
“These are unusual and uncertain times,” stated Estes during the meeting which was held via teleconference. “Our people are hurting and there are internal hardships to folks in our community.”
Estes went on to say that this is not intended to be an open-ended change in policy as if the measure is approved after the public hearing and second reading today, that the authority expires on May 31, 2020.
If at that time things have not started back on an upward climb from the pandemic, the council can once again make an amendment to extend the date further.
Estes also said that his staff is working on trying to get a uniform policy between both the water/wastewater and the electric side.
Elizabethton city attorney Roger Day stated that if on the second reading of the amendment that if the council approves, it would become effective immediately.
The amendment will allow for assistance with late fees, cut off and installation fees and the cut off of sewer services for the failure to pay a bill to the City of Elizabethton as the City Manager shall determine.
It will not allow for the reduction in the bills for the actual amount due.
“We will still continue to bill and expect the customers to pay,” stated Estes. “It will allow us to give some forbearance so things won’t get cut off immediately.”
Day added, “The idea would be that people that are having problems paying their bill will call and work out a payment plan now so they won’t get two or three months behind on their bills.
“Right now we just have to take it one day at a time.”
The public hearing and second reading will be today at 11:30 a.m. once again by teleconference.
Estes went on to update currently some of the things being done by the City of Elizabethton in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our library is closed but the employees are still working as they have quite a bit of work to get caught up on,” stated Estes. “Our Parks and Rec Department closed to the public the first day that schools closed although we do have a few people coming in to work.
“City Hall is closed to the public. Although some work can be done remotely, most work cannot be done outside of the office so they will have to come in as well to help man the phones to assist our customers.
“We have also waived the $1.25 fee to pay online for water bills and the $1.50 fee to pay court fees to encourage people to pay those online.”

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox