As delinquent municipal utilities increase, the Ames City Council voted in favor of requesting allocated funds to assist customers during the pandemic.
The amount of outstanding municipal utilities is up to $750,000, the Ames City Council voted to request a waiver to allow the use of the Community Block Development Grant toward this revenue. Council voted for Ames Mayor John Haila to contact the offices of Sen. Joni Ernst and Sen. Chuck Grassley as the amount continues to grow each month.
The city will notify delinquent accounts to contact the finance department to set up a payment plan or to possibly qualify for the funding if it is granted. Customers will be sent a letter notifying them of the status of their account. If there is no response after 10 to 14 days, the finance department will contact the customer through a phone call or email to figure out a payment plan. If there is still no response after multiple notices, the city will proceed to cut off the customer’s electricity.
“If we don’t start the process now, remember we go through a whole month the whole cycle,” said Ames City Manager Steve Schainker. “We are getting to the spot where it kicks in, I believe no later than the end of October or somewhere around there, that you can’t shut off certain groups of people until April. Which sounds good, but all these people, their amount due keeps growing and growing. It is just going to be a terrible burden to have to pay back later on even with a payment plan and then to go forward and pay for their utilities. We want to see if we can help them before this bill keeps growing.”
This topic was also a matter of discussion for Iowa State students and the Ames Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. When this issue was first addressed in late June, students confronted the matter during a Black Lives Matter protest.
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