Alexander City leaders are looking at waiving late fees on utility payments and postponing disconnects while Alabama is facing an economic crisis responding to the coronavirus.
Alexander City Mayor Tommy Spraggins and councilmembers are hopeful details can be worked out by the next council meeting on April 6.
“We are looking at crafting a resolution to eliminate late fees and have no disconnects of utilities while Gov. (Kay) Ivey has declared a state of emergency,” Spraggins said. “It is very similar to what Alabama Power is doing.”
Councilmember Scott Hardy said this time is trying for all and he hopes city leaders can help ease the burden of citizens.
“We are trying to stay in line with the state,” Hardy said. “It’s inconvenient for a lot of people but this is something we need to do. I hope we will be as cognizant of all that live in the city. We are going to make sure we are in line with any of the state mandates.”
Councilmember Bobby Tapley believes the fallout from COVID-19 will be difficult for all.
“I think this will be hard on the people of Alexander City,” Tapley said. “I don’t think we should charge fees for being late on power bills or disconnect someone because they didn’t pay in this time.”
Councilmember Eric Brown hopes the crisis surrounding the spread of the coronavirus is short lived but likes the idea of helping people with their utility payments if things continue to worsen.
“If this thing only drags out for two weeks, we will be all right I think,” Brown said. “If it goes longer than that we could be in a world of hurt, especially small businesses. I like the idea of giving a break on the extra fees during this crisis.”
Councilmember Buffy Colvin is also in favor of eliminating the extra fees on nonpayment of utility bills during this state of emergency.
“We need to do it,” Colvin said. “Every day I’m hearing of someone not able to work or losing work.”
City leaders said the first day of city hall being closed went well. The drive-thru was reopened to allow for payments and business licenses as the doors to city hall were locked.
“The drive-thru has been used tremendously since (Monday) with customers using both cash and credit cards,” Spraggins said. “Customers seem to like it. We will probably leave it open until we move to the municipal complex.”
Colvin is concerned about Alexander City as COVID-19 appears to be bringing everything to a halt.
“I feel for these people who have nothing,” Colvin said. “I’m lucky I am healthy and if I need it, I have paid time off if I’m sick. I feel for those who don’t. It is hurting my soul.”
Colvin and Hardy are hopeful they and other city leaders can help guide the area through these tough times.
“We are at a point where information is coming in hourly it seems,” Hardy said. “It is hard to make long-term decisions with short-term information.”
Colvin said, “This is a disaster. I am hoping the mayor and the city are going to help.”