The city of Clearwater plans to resume terminating utility services for nonpayment starting July 1. It will also restart charging fines for late payments on that day.
In mid-March, anticipating financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic, the city put a forbearance program in place for water, gas and electric service.
According to a press release, the city is reopening and finalizing its budget for next year.
“It is important the city of Clearwater also pays its expenses for operations, projects and debt service,” the release stated. “The city must meet its obligations, like all other utility companies, and it does so from payment for services by customers.”
City utilities customer service manager Dan Johnson has been calling residents who’ve been behind on their bills to let them know the city will work with them.
“We have a lot of our customers who have never missed a payment and we're working very hard to assure them that we're doing what we can,” Johnson said.
There are several resources for people who need assistance. Residents can apply for aid from 2-1-1, or the Pinellas CARES financial relief program, which is funded through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES Act.
It provides one-time financial help to individuals and families who have lost jobs or significant income due to COVID-19. It can be applied to things such as overdue utility bills, rent, or mortgage.
The deadline to apply for the Pinellas CARES financial relief program is June 30.
There are also options within city government. Johnson mentioned staggered payments as another option.
“If we need to spread those payments out over a number of months to get them back on track," he said.
Clearwater also has a program called 'We Care' that Johnson described as a neighbor-helping-neighbor arrangement.
“The 'We Care' program is our customers giving money back to us to help other customers," Johnson said.
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