TWIN FALLS — Tomorrow the city of Twin Falls will have to begin disconnecting water and wastewater utilities for residents who have delinquent accounts. Council members consider a "delinquent" account to be a household or residence that has not paid this specific utility bill for nearly ninety days, despite the city attempting to reach out to them via phone, mail, and online to discuss a payment plan.
Before COVID-19, there were only sixteen delinquent accounts. Once the pandemic hit and stay at home order was put into place, the city suspended utility shutoffs due to an increase in unemployment numbers and to reduce the spread of the virus. In June, the number of delinquent accounts skyrocketed to just over 600, close to 30 times more than what the numbers were before COVID.
In the timing since June, the city has managed to decrease the number of delinquent accounts to just 240. While there has been a significant decrease, there are still plenty of residents at risk of having their water turned off, which is the last the city wants to do during such trying times for the community.
These residents have the chance to set up a payment arrangement with the city to ensure their water stays on. "If you can't pay your bill, your entire bill, we're encouraging people to set up payment arrangements. It's very easy to do, and by doing that, we're not going to shut off anyone's water, wastewater, and at the same rate it puts them in good standing with their bill payment," said Public Informations Coordinator for Twin Falls, Joshua Palmer.
There are multiple ways to set up an arrangement with the city. You can go online through the city's website under the utility services section, which has payment arrangement plans. You can call or even go to city hall and set up a plan in person. However, a face-mask will be required upon entry.
Since it is a tough time for many people, the payment arrangement allows residents to pay their bills back as they can. The city also works with local organizations to try and help those who are financially struggling. Palmer said, "If somebody is behind on their payments, if they can't make that full payment, contact us we'll set you up on a payment plan, and we can help you work with those community partners to possibly, cover part of your bill."
Anyone whose water does get shut off, once a payment arrangement is made, it will be turned back on within twelve hours.