MONTICELLO — White County residents who have struggled to pay rent or utility bills during the coronavirus pandemic have less than a week before the state’s protections against utility shutoffs end.
Gov. Eric Holcomb said Wednesday he intends to allow the state’s ban on disconnecting utility services to expire on Aug. 14. Part of that moratorium also includes a stoppage of rental property evictions, which will also expire.
Holcomb said Hoosiers who are behind on their bills should immediately contact their landlords or utilities to work out payment plans, or reach out to state agencies for assistance in getting caught up on their payments.
Locally, Carroll White REMC issued a statement Friday reminding its members that it will begin disconnections for nonpayment of utility bills beginning Aug. 17.
Most utility companies voluntarily made the decision to suspend shutoffs back in March in response to the COVID-19 health emergency, but they also encouraged customers to keep paying their bill as the moratorium did not discontinue accumulation of charges for utilities used.
Part of the moratorium ordered that all late fees were suspended.
Carroll White REM said disconnects on Aug. 17 will apply to those members who are on billing cycles 2 and 3. Members who are on billing cycle 1 will be disconnected for nonpayment Aug. 25.
Carroll White REMC officials said they will work with members, if needed, to avoid disconnections. Members who need payment assistance can call 2-1-1 to connect to local service agencies who may be able to provide help.
NIPSCO also voluntarily suspended shutoffs of its electric and gas services in March and is encouraging its customers to make payment arrangements now to avoid shutoffs after Aug. 14 via a variety of options.
The Monticello City Council and the Board of Works and Safety each decided in June to hold off on its water/wastewater utility shutoffs until October. Late fees were waived retroactively from March to July, with the fees and penalties credited.
City officials urge residents to “use this opportunity” to bring their accounts into compliance prior to the resumption of shutoffs and placement of utility liens in October.
Monticello does not have its own electric utility service, so customers must contact their electric company to make any needed arrangements.
The Town of Wolcott, according to Clerk/Treasurer Pam Bennett, plans to start disconnects in accordance with the governor’s orders. The town’s water/wastewater utility customers will be expected to pay late fees associated with any back bills. Disconnect fees were waived during the moratorium in Wolcott, she said, but those will also be back beginning Aug. 14.
Brookston officials said its moratorium on utility (electric and water/wastewater) shutoffs will be lifted Aug. 14, but disconnects won’t begin until September. Town officials said they have been encouraging residents to stay current on bills throughout the health emergency to avoid digging themselves into a large hole.
Tim Brown, clerk/treasurer for the Town of Monon, said the moratorium will end in step with the state’s Aug. 14 deadline, but the town won’t jump straight into shutoffs until September.