Following an executive order from Gov. Andy Beshear on Oct. 19 allowing utility cutoffs to resume on Friday, Nov. 6, the City of Madisonville has decided to extend the cutoff date to Friday, Jan. 15.

The executive order was originally released in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The backlogged amount owed is just over half a million at a total of $530,919 with $452,687 being owed from residential accounts and $78,232 from commercial accounts.

“The City of Madisonville recognizes the many challenges our residents have faced during the pandemic,” a letter from the city that is expected to be mailed out next week states. “The timing of this executive order here at the holidays has placed an additional level of stress and strain on our community and citizens.”

Utility customers unable to pay in full due to loss of income associated with the pandemic will be allowed to form a budgeted payment plan for any past due amount, say city officials.

“The City of Madisonville Municipal Utilities Department will not terminate service to those enrolled and paying the approved payment amount in addition to the current bill,” according to the letter. “All past due accounts will be placed automatically on the monthly budget billing, in which your outstanding balance, excluding current charges, will be divided by 12, this will permit you a year to pay off any past due balance.”

Residents will also receive a follow-up letter in January 2021 explaining the amount due on accounts.

“We don’t like being this far behind,” said Madisonville City Administrator Robert Janes. “We understand what the needs are as far as the community.”

Janes added this decision does not have to appear before the Madisonville City Council.

Across Hopkins County, municipalities are getting ready to discuss the amount owed to them as far as backlogged utility payments.

In White Plains, utility outstanding debts is around $9,000, according to White Plains Mayor Joshua Slaton, who met with city commissioners on Thursday night to discuss the amount owed.

Slaton said the amount might not seem like a lot to other municipalities, but it is important for the town of White Plains.

“It is huge,” he said, adding that the town will follow the guidance of Beshear’s order to give a payment plan of six months.

Other towns like Nortonville are still calculating the total amount owed in backlogged utilities.

According to Nortonville City Clerk Julie Sellers, the amount will be discussed at the town’s meeting on Monday, Nov. 9.

The executive order issued on Oct. 19 instructs municipalities to create payment plans for all debt accumulated from “services rendered on or after May 8, 2020, and before Oct. 25, 2020, to the extent that past due balances exist.”

According to the Kentucky League of Cities, Beshear created “a new payment assistance program using $15 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds. Customers can apply to the Healthy at Home Utility Relief fund for past due balances, and the program directly pays utilities.”

For more information, visit Relief.

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