LCG will help struggling LUS customers avoid disconnections as grace period ends

Posted at 10:41 AM, May 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-08 16:51:32-04

LAFAYETTE, La. — The Lafayette Consolidated Government held a press briefing on Friday to provide updates for the on-going COVID-19 public health emergency.

Lafayette Mayor-President clarified comments he made during his press briefing on Wednesday about what LCG is doing to help personal service businesses.

Guillory said that LCG is working on plans with the Lafayette Economic Development Authority, the city and parish councils and other local stakeholders to provide assistance to these closed businesses who have nowhere else to turn.

While local personal service businesses remain closed under Gov. John Bel Edward's extended Stay At Home Order, Guillory says that LCG is working to assist them.

In mid-March, LCG announced that LUS would not disconnect customers who fell behind on bills.

According to Guillory, there are there are currently about 5,000 of LUS’s 70,000 customers both residential and business who are eligible for disconnection.

LCG is now working on payment plans that will allow customers to catch up on their past due bills over a period of 4-6 months with no penalties or late charges.

Note: It was mentioned during Friday's press conference that LUS and LUS Fiber related payments can be made at the drive-thru on Pinhook and Kaliste Saloom. That location does not have a drive-thru, only a retail location that is currently closed to the public. Drive-thru service is available at the Moss St. location.

"Now that we’re coming to the end of this moratorium period, I want to let the public know that LUS is prepared to work with customers who have fallen behind in their payments," Guillory said. "This should be especially helpful to businesses who have been closed or who had reduced operations during this public health emergency."

Guilory added that he expects to make a more detailed announcement on this plan sometime next week.

Interim LUS Director Lowell Duhon said that, for a comparison, there were only 300 LUS customers scheduled for disconnection a week before the moratorium was instituted back in March.

Guillory added more sobering economic statistices by stating that since March 21, Lafayette Parish has had 30,176 initial claims unemployment benefits.

To put this in perspective, he said, Lafayette Parish lost 20,000 jobs during the energy downturn of 2014 - 2015. So, the combination of COVID-19 and lower energy demand has cost Lafayette Parish 50% more jobs than just 5 years ago.

In March, Lafayette Parish taxable sales dropped $50 million from a year ago, said Guillory. While some sectors like grocery stores had significant increases, others like restaurants and non-food retailers had some of their worst months ever.

"We have a lot of work ahead of us to get our economy moving while we get our businesses up and running again," Guillory said. "These economic indicators highlight the budgetary challenges we are facing going forward, which will necessitate significant changes to how we do business requiring us to innovate solutions to deliver more with less to our constituents."

As of Friday, Lafayette Parish is reporting 481 cases of COVID-19 with 21 deaths on a base of 10,191 tests taken since March 18. To see the full Friday update from the Louisiana Department of Health, click here.

You can watch Friday's press briefing in full below.

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