Langley council vote extends suspension of utility late fees

Late fees and disconnections are suspended until June 2021.

Langley utility customers will continue to get a little more breathing room, since the city council voted to approve the extension of a resolution that suspends late fees of utility payments and disconnections until June 2021.

During a council meeting Monday night, Council Member Thomas Gill suggested to his fellow council members that the city should consider further deferring the late fees because many people are still struggling with financial issues exacerbated by the pandemic.

Assistant Clerk Darlene Baldwin said the city’s current moratorium runs until the end of December.

Baldwin said there is a large percentage of customers who are not currently behind in paying bills, but that there are still some residents and business owners who are about a bill behind.

She added that there are a “handful” of customers who are even more behind than that, who she will be reaching out to.

She pointed out that the Island County CARES funds were “a lifesaver” for some families.

“It was wonderful knowing about that resource and being able to share that,” Baldwin said.

Mayor Tim Callison asked Public Works Director Stan Berryman if there was any weakness in the funding of utilities as a result of having the waiver. Berryman responded that the city’s utilities looked like they were doing pretty well.

Baldwin recommended that the city shouldn’t have late fees or utility shut-offs for another four months, or two billing periods.

Gill said he would like to go longer, at least until June, to have an extra buffer.

“We still don’t know what’s going to happen between the Christmas holidays in terms of jobs, but also in terms of [virus] transmission,” he said.

In the end, the council unanimously agreed to defer utility payment late fees and to suspend any disconnections until June 1, 2021.

“It’s very considerate of you,” Callison said to the council members about their decision.

“You should be commended.”