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City pulls together during storm; works to help residents with utility bills

By Staff, 02/23/21 10:15 AM

PRESCOTT – Mayor Terry Oliver kicked off the February Prescott City Council meeting Monday night, talking about the recent snow storm.

This was a live meeting as members of the council had to be officially sworn in. Oliver said last week was full of problems, but the people of Prescott stepped up when and where it counted, pitched in and helped one another. He said the city got close to requiring a boil order during the wintry weather, but managed to avoid it, though, he added, the city isn’t out of the woods yet. Surrounding communities, he told the council, did have to issue boil orders.

According to Oliver, Prescott received 20-inches of snow over the week. He said the city’s street and electric department employees went above and beyond as soon as it began snowing. When it started, the city had three backhoes, got down to one, managed to get one running again to make it two. What was learned, he said, is the city doesn’t have enough equipment for snow. Additionally, he praised the Prescott Police Department, Prescott Fire Department and Nevada County Rescue Unit as they started at 5 a.m. and worked 24-hours-a-day, shuttling essential workers to and from their jobs, making between 300-400 trips. People from the city and county brought tractors in to help people get out of their driveways.

“This brought everyone back together,” he said, “and it felt good. Everybody helped everybody whether they knew them or not. I was proud of Prescott last week.”

Oliver ended the meeting saying the city wants to do something to help those who will have extremely high utility bills in the coming months because of the cold weather. Several people, he told the council, had pipes freeze and burst when temperatures got near and below zero. Two ideas were proposed. The first was no late or reconnection fee until April 10, with the other being for those who’ve been customers of Prescott Water and Light at least a full year, pay their previous month’s bill with the rest deferred for 10 months. He said some people will have bills of $700 to $1,000 because of the winter weather.

The city, he reminded the panel, already uses deferred plans on some bills and this is the best way to help citizens while avoiding the mass pulling of electric and water meters. Oliver pointed out a lot of people are having to pay plumbers because of frozen pipes.

Questions were raised about helping people with their water bills as they didn’t use the water from the leaks. City Manager Bruce Bean said the city has an ordinance requiring water going through the meter to be paid for, though water that didn’t go into the sewer could be forgiven and the sewer bill adjusted. He said this would be part of the deferred payment program.

Councilman Ivory Curry said he wanted the city to do something to help those who had pipes burst because they didn’t use the water and will have outlandish water bills.

Oliver said the amount discussed included water along with electricity on the utility bills as customers of PW&L pay  for water, sewer, electricity and trash pickup on one bill.

In other business, Bean was recognized at 2020 Employee of the Year for the City of Prescott.