By Fred Arnold
Tightening economic times serve as a flash point for people on a budget. One thing local and area residents won;t have to worry about as the purse strings tighten as part of the Covid-19 outbreak, is having their utilities disconnected for non-payments.
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly signed an executive order prohibiting municipal utilities from shutting off services. The mandate will stay in effect until it has been repealed. This directive covers all electrical, natural gas, water and telecommunications utilities as well as internet providers.
According to Belleville city manager Adam Anderson, cities are still able to apply late fees and penalties for those who don't pay.
"I think there will only be a handful of people who end up getting sheltered from disconnection," he said. "But this will be a huge disadvantage to them in the end because they will eventually need to pay a larger balance with all the late fees."
Andesron said however, that a reprieve in paying for utilities isn't necessarily a good thing.
"I think that this executive order and the next one Governor Kelly issued, No.20-06, which temporarily prohibits evictions and foreclosures, could be a disadvantage for people," he said. "These will allow a few people to dg themselves into financial holes that are deep and difficult to get out of."
Doug Jacson, general manager for Rolling Hills Cooperative aid the executive order also extends to their rural customers as well.
"Rolling Hills has a cold weather rule that limits the cooperative's ability to disconnect customers for non-payment during the winter months," he said. "We have basically extended this rule to include members affected and infected with Covid-19."
Jackson aid the situation is "very fluid" and the cooperative is enacting guidelines to protect its membership, employees and families.