Utility disconnections underway

By Brandon Martin

Officials with Henry County Public Service Authority (PSA) said that 150 of approximately 500 delinquent accounts have been disconnected since Sept. 14.

After months of promoting assistance for residents, PSA Assistant General Manager Dale Wagoner said only 13 people have contacted the Martinsville-Henry Department of Social Services to request help paying their utility bills.

Those to apply accounted for only about $3,300 of the $200,000 from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds that Henry County set aside to help, he said.

Wagoner told the PSA at its Sept. 21 meeting that instead of cutting off all of the delinquent accounts, “we started with the most severe accounts first.”

He added that there were approximately 350 people left who still have time to pay before disconnections happen.

“Today was payment day so maybe some came and paid today,” Wagoner said, adding that the next round of cut-offs would begin next week.

Finance Director Darrell Jones said now that utility disconnections have resumed, he expects revenues to catch up to projections.

“It’s going to take a while for us to get caught up to what we would consider a normal process,” Jones said. “We will see an improvement on the collection of receivables in the next few months as we move forward and word gets out that we are cutting off. We put a notice in people’s Aug. 31 bill that said cut-offs were going to resume and they were subject to disconnection.”

He said that the notices have already shown some effectiveness as “a few people who knew who they were” have already shown up to pay their overdue bills.

 

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