In Abbeville, the mayor declared a State of Emergency for the city on Thursday.
This will suspend compliance with city ordinances that might delay response time.
Mayor Mark Piazza is reassuring citizens that the city will continue to function through COVID-19 precautions.
"I do want to emphasize to the citizens of Abbeville that utilities and city services will continue. We are closely working with our fire department and police department to make sure these services continue and normal operations," Piazza explained.
In a Facebook post on Thursday, Piazza outlined the reason why payment for utilities would still be collected from Abbeville residents after some raised concern that other utility companies were waiving fees and not allowing disconnections.
The Mayor said that while the Louisiana Public Service Commission informed "for profit" utility companies that they couldn't disconnect customers for non-payment, that policy doesn't apply to cities.
Cities like Abbeville are not governed by the PSC and, according to Piazza, is dependent upon utility sales to provide for public safety, services, and continued city operations.
In response to comments on the city's post, Piazza replied, "I completely understand the comments from everyone. I know people are hurting, but we had to make a choice. Pay policemen and firemen or allow the public not to pay their bills. The choice, while a very difficult one is obvious. The safety of our citizens comes first."
Electrical disconnections for non-payment will continue on Monday, March 23.
"We acknowledge the burden this crisis has on the Citizens of Abbeville and this is a difficult but necessary decision. The City will waive applicable “late fees” for this month’s billing cycles. The “re-connect fee” may be waived if the account is reconnected.
See the post, below: