© 2023 WFSU Public Media
WFSU News · Tallahassee · Panama City · Thomasville
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Tallahassee Utility Disconnections Could Soon Resume

Mark Wallheiser
An aerial shot of downtown Tallahassee at night.

Tallahassee city commissioners will soon consider allowing utility disconnections to resume.

"The direction that our mayor and City Commission have given us is to exercise compassion to work with individuals on payment plans and extensions," said James Barnes, the city's chief customer officer.

For almost a year, residents struggling to pay their utility bills haven’t had to worry about the city shutting off the power and water to their homes and businesses.

The city halted disconnecting services on March 12, 2020.

With nearly $9 million in federal funding coming available next month, those customers could soon get help making those overdue payments. Barnes says that’s why the utilities department — which offers water, electricity, gas and trash service — recommends resuming service suspensions.

“This makes it a perfect opportunity for us to remove some of the delinquency that we have and assist customers in getting support so there’s no drop in service,"Barnes said, calling it a win for everyone. "And we’re all helping one another so that there is no hardship.”

Barnes says the amount of unpaid utility bills ranges somewhere between $8.5 million and $9.4 million.

Roughly 9,000 customers are more than 60 days past due, he said. "Some of those customers have not paid us since March. Some of them have not paid us since August."

Barnes urges residents who need help with payments to call the city utilities department between 6 a.m. - 11 p.m. at (850) 891-4968 to work out a plan that fits their individual budget.

City commissioners will consider resuming utility disconnections at their next regular meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 24.

Valerie Crowder hosts and produces state and local newscasts during All Things Considered. Her reporting on local government and politics has received state and regional award recognition. She has also contributed stories to NPR newscasts.