(Idaho Falls, ID) – As Idaho rebounds from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Idaho Falls is offering relief to customers who may be working to catch up on their City utility bills.
Past City policy would suspend utility services for residential customers who were 45 days past due on their bills with a balance in excess of 25 dollars.
However, earlier this year, due to hardships some residents were experiencing from the COVID-19 crisis, the City Council voted to suspend its policy of discontinuing service for customers who were past due on their bills.
As the State and businesses begin to reopen, following the Governor’s directives, the City will also implement a process to allow residents and small businesses to catch up on any past due utility bills they might have incurred during the crisis. This temporary policy adopted by City Council resolution on Thursday, May 21 is aimed at helping people avoid being disconnected from City utility services.
“As non-profit enterprises, when utility accounts are not paid the costs are passed on to other customers,” said Pam Alexander, Director of the Municipal Services Department. “To avoid this from happening, the City wants to work with customers to provide options for them to be able to pay for the services they used. This plan does that in a fair and equitable way while still making sure customers can continue to receive uninterrupted electric, water, wastewater and sanitation services.”
As part of that plan, the city is permanently raising the overdue amount allowed from 25 dollars to 50 dollars for residential customers before being disconnected. In addition, beginning July 1, customers will not be disconnected unless they are more than 195 days in arrears.
That time frame will gradually reduce to 145 days beginning August 1 and then go to 95 days on September 1. As stated earlier, the normal policy of 45 days overdue for utility disconnections will resume beginning October 1.
Any customer who may be struggling with any past due balances is encouraged to contact the City of Idaho Falls Utility Office with questions at (208) 612-8280. Utility credit office staff will work with customers to help direct them to resources that may be available to assist them with their bills including Eastern Idaho Community Action Partnership (EICAP) and their energy assistance program.
“There are a variety of ways we can help customers who may be struggling,” said Alexander. “With some of the CARES and other federal assistance available because of COVID-19 there are additional LIHEAP funds available through EICAP and SBA Loan Assistance for businesses potentially available.”
The City also offers a variety of easy and convenient payment methods to help residents keep up with their utility payments including automated bank draft payments and paperless, or e-billing. Budget billing is also available, which removes peaks and valleys in utility costs and averages out payments evenly every month.
Payments can also be made at City Hall in person at the Treasurer’s office, at the 24/7 self-serve kiosk at City Hall, the 8 am-5 pm self-serve kiosk at Idaho Falls Power or at the drop box in the City Hall parking lot. Payments can also be made online at the city’s website, www.idahofallsidaho.gov, or by calling the utility payment toll free number at 844-235-2019.
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Media Note: For more information or to arrange an interview with city staff please contact City of Idaho Falls Public Information Officer Bud Cranor at 208-612-8306.