Town of Castor council moves to reinstate utility cutoffs

Town of Castor council moves to reinstate utility cutoffs

The Government of Alberta Utility Deferral Program ended June 18th

By Kevin J. Sabo For the Advance

The Town of Castor currently has nearly $24,000 worth of utility fees owed to it, Town council heard during the July 27th meeting.

Of the $23,861 that is owed to the municipality for services, seven of the outstanding accounts are carrying balances over $1,000, and the remainder of the accounts average around $500 owed.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, earlier in the year and with direction from the Province, council voted to stop utility cut-offs, and also established a utility deferral program based on the program instituted by the Province.

The program was one where residents wishing to defer their utility payments had to “opt-in” on the program to get interest waived on their back-utilities.

Despite the program being available, no residents opted in, though according to Town of Castor Chief Administrative Officer Christopher Robblee people have just not been paying their bills.

“We have people just not paying their bills,” said Robblee, recommending that council cancel the deferral program and reinstate utility cut-offs

Council deliberated on their options, and generally seemed to favour the idea.

“I think we should kick it back in,” said Councillor Kevin McDougall.

Councillor Trudy Kilner agreed, saying, “They had a chance, they could have opted into the program.”

With interest accruing on the unpaid accounts, council moved to discontinue the deferral program and reinstate utility cut-offs, effective the beginning of August.

Council is allowing those residents owing utility dues to pay them off with 12 equal payments over the next year, plus their current bills.

“In essence, residents would have to make two payments (per month),” said Robblee. One payment would go towards the outstanding, plus residents would have to pay their current bills.

“They would have 12 months from August to make 12 equal payments (on the outstanding) and pay their current bill. Interest would be on top.”

The Government of Alberta Utility Deferral Program ended June 18th.

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