Mayor, city council override KC Water plan to resume shutoff

Utility announced plan to resume shutoffs Nov. 1
Posted at 1:26 PM, Oct 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-01 18:25:10-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Within hours of KC Water's announcement that it would resume disconnecting water service to customers with delinquent accounts, Kansas City, Mayor, Quinton Lucas and the KCMO City Council reversed that decision Thursday afternoon.

Lucas, 6th District At-Large Councilwoman Andrea Bough and 3rd District Councilwoman Melissa Robinson sponsored an ordinance, which passed the council, to suspend water shutoffs until at least Jan. 16, 2021.

“No one should be without water services due to COVID-19,” Bough said in a statement from Lucas' office. “There are ways to manage delinquent accounts that do not harm Kansas Citians who are financially struggling due to this pandemic. I am proud of the important step we’re taking today to keep residents’ water on.”

Lucas vowed to reverse the decision on social media shortly after KC Water announced Thursday morning that it planned to lift its moratorium on water service shutoffs due to non-payment starting Nov. 1.

Lucas also said the city plans to ensure "help for those struggling to pay their water bills."

"As a City Government, we have a duty to approach these unusual circumstances with compassion and understanding — which we will continue to do," Lucas said in a statement.

Customers experiencing trouble paying their water bill should contact KC Water by calling 816-513-1313 or 311 and selecting option 1.

“We understand the need for water and we will do everything we can to maintain water services for customers but they must seek our help," KC Water Customer Service Officer John Clarkson said. "We need delinquent account holders to contact us to avoid a disruption of service for non-payment."

KC Water was one of several companies that halted shutoffs in March due to the financial strain the COVID-19 pandemic had on families amid skyrocketing unemployment.

The utility said it will work with customers to arrange payment plans and customer assistance programs through the Mid-America Assistance Coalition.

The announcement applies to both residential and business accounts and the company is urging customers who are struggling to pay their bills to reach out.

KC Water said it's seeking financial relief through the CARES Act to help customers and replace lost revenue.

Shortly after the announcement, Lucas said he'd take action to reverse the decision in a tweet.

"One advantage of local control of this department is that we can actually vote on decisions like this and reverse them. Expect us to do so soon," Lucas said via social media.

He added, "We will have a solution at today's City Council meeting that ensures provision of water services for those struggling with making payments on their @KCMOwater bills during our current pandemic. Our compassion does not have an end date."