An increase in water customers receiving cut-off notices is beginning to concern members of the Evarts City Council.
Mayor Eddie Manning said during a recent meeting the number this month increased to 80 people receiving notices for being two months past due for payment of their water bills.
Manning said high unemployment in the Clover Fork area could be one of the reasons why more and more water customers are unable to pay their water bills.
“I know times are tough right now and our numbers have spiked,” said Manning. “Council came in last year and put a policy into place that we were going to quit sending out cut-off notices. We decided to call the customers if they are two months past due — and that has helped, but a lot of people don’t have telephones. We are doing what we are supposed to do — just like council has instructed us to do.”
Manning said he is getting a lot of calls from “irate customers,” who have had their water cut off.
“You may have to hear it too,” said Manning. “We just have to tell the customers we are following policy. This is just a sign of the times. It has gotten worse recently. I believe a lot of people are just out of work and having to shuffle their bills.”
City Clerk Kristi Lamb said 20 customers have already had their water cut off and in the next few days approximately 30 more will have their water cut off.
“Most of them are repeat cut-offs, but we do have some new ones this month,” said Lamb. “It’s people who have paid faithfully, whom I have known for years, and then boom they are on the list for cut-off. We try to help them if they call and let us know if they need a few days to pay. It has gotten really bad guys.”
Council member Carrie Lipfird said “the city can’t afford to go in the hole” if people don’t pay their water bills.
“It’s not fair to everyone else paying their bills especially when I know some of them are filling their swimming pools up and they’re not paying their water bill,” said Lipfird.
Lamb said an irate customer recently came into city hall, after his water was cut off, and she had to get Chief of Police Lupe Blas to “settle the man down.”
Council member Shelly Shackleford said the city may have to think about putting a glass panel in city hall dividing staff and customers for the staff’s protection.
In other council action the council:
*Sold a surplus roller and truck for $500 each;
*Agreed to place one more speed bump on Harlan Street and two on Leslie Street;
*Learned the sidewalks on the city’s one-way street are complete;
*Renamed city park Push and Grunt Park in honor of an old coal tipple and coal mine which stood in the same area for many years;
*Approved the purchase of a new office copier/fax machine at a cost of $167.29 per month, which is a cost-saving measure from the previous $358 per month contract.
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510, ext. 115, email@example.com