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City of Columbia could change how utility disconnects work

City leaders in Columbia could change how utility disconnections are done.

The Human Rights Commission voted Tuesday night to send a report to the city council to endorse four new policies.

That includes waiving non-electric charges before a customer requests helps and to get rid of disconnect and reconnect fees for people 200 percent below the poverty line.

According to Columbia, the number of delinquent accounts increased from 2,500 in February 2020 to 6,800 in April 2020.

A leader of a local group that provides utility help says it can be difficult to give out assistance.

Central Missouri Community Action Darin Preis said, "The LIHEAP program doesn't allow us to pay for things like water, sewer and trash and the city requires those things to be paid before we can pay on electric. So it's possible that someone's not able to pay those smaller bills. And so we're not able to provide that shutoff assistance because of that, which is kind of an anomaly in the system but that's the, those are the rules we're playing by."

The city council is scheduled to meet again on January 19th.

Columbia City Government / News

ABC 17 News Team

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