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copyright Richard S. Lawson

HAMPTON — Hampton residents can rest assured their utilities will not be cut off due to an inability to pay during the COVID-19 state of emergency, according to City Manager Alex Cohilas.

Several residents were upset with a letter they received with their utility bill stating there is no city ordinance that “grants authority to any customer service staff member to unilaterally grant payment extensions for late payment of utility bills. Furthermore, no Hampton customer service staff has the authority to negotiate or ever into agreements with utility customers for repayment of delinquent utility bills. Henceforth, the notice stamped in red at the bottom of each utility will be strictly enforced.”

The stamped notice states “this is the only notice you will receive. No reminder notice will be sent on past due balances. Delinquent bills will be disconnected on the 10th of the month.”

Cohilas said the letter was written and sent before businesses began shutting down resulting in unemployment for many.

“I’m deeply regretful for the timing,” he said. “If I could have possibly foreseen the rapidly changing events, decisions made are snapshots in time, and it was too late to pull the letter back.”

Cohilas said the city is sensitive to what’s going on in the country and that he has the full support of the mayor and City Council that no utilities will be cut off at this time.

He said every resident who may have trouble paying their bill should call customer service at City Hall to discuss their bill.

“We’re going to work with everybody on a case-by-case basis,” Cohilas said.

Additionally, for those who wish to pay online with a credit card, the city is waiving the administration fees to do so.

Hampton residents receive one bill monthly that includes water, sewer, electric and garbage. Cohilas noted the notice in red at the bottom of each bill is standard.

City Hall is currently closed until further notice due to the coronavirus; however, the drive-through window remains open. The Train Depot and the Catherine Williams Community Center are also closed. Municipal Court has been canceled for the month of April as well as the April 14 City Council meeting.

To speak with customer service at Hampton City Hall regarding a utility bill, call 770-946-4306.

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