OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Big news for Oklahoma City utilities customers: the city is resuming water disconnections after almost a year of leniency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I know people that are hundreds of dollars behind,” said Oklahoma City resident Angie Steedman. “It’s not good to not give us enough notice. It’s not good.”
The City of Oklahoma City posted a message to Facebook on Tuesday that said, “nearly 16,000 of the city’s 190,000 residential customers are behind on their utility bills, adding up to about $9 million.”
Jennifer McClintock, from the City of OKC’s Utility Department, says it was a tough decision.
“This isn’t something we are wanting to do. It’s simply a matter of necessity,” McClintock said. “We want to work with our customers which is why we are expanding our payment installment program for up to a year, so those folks who do have high balances with us, they can call us. We can get them set up on a payment program.”
Other residents say OKC has another problem to address: the city’s new utilities payment app– which deleted some customers’ auto payment information.
Like Nicholas Elliot, who says he almost had his own water turned off for missing a payment that he didn’t even know about.
“I had set up auto pay in my billing. I had been making auto payments for years now,” Elliot said. “I found out through an email that I got that I was no longer up to date on my billing and that they would be shutting off my water next month.”
McClintock said a small amount of people were affected by this.
She says as of November 1st, when the city launched the new app there were about 15,200 accounts with past due balances.
As of Wednesday afternoon that number was up to 15,500.
“We’re looking at about maybe 400 people that were swept in to that number. So, the impact from the migration of the information on the old app to the new app is very miniscule,” McClintock said.
Steedman saying she wishes the city would find better ways of communicating.
“I want them to be more careful about their messaging,” Steedman said. “Again when they say ‘we’re shutting your water off in two weeks and oh by the way, wear your mask and we’re all in this together’ we are not all in this together. I am so tired of hearing that. It’s every man for himself right now.”
McClintock says those shutoffs are expected to start happening during the February billing cycle.
But she says if you need to set up a payment plan– to call the city.
She also says to give the city a call if you are one of those people whose autopay didn’t roll over to the new system.