Asheville extends repayment plan for customers who fell behind in utility payments

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Understanding the continuing economic hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Asheville is extending the safeguarding of City utility accounts for all customers from shut-offs due to nonpayment.

 

To be clear: Bills will not be forgiven, but rather customers who fell behind in payments will be offered payment plans to help them catch up on the bill and avoid disconnection.

 

Originally, the City safeguarded accounts that had become delinquent between March 13-Aug. 18, 2020. The extension is now available to all accounts that have fallen behind in payment from March 13, 2020 to the present time. No delinquent fees will be added to delinquent balances.  This safeguard will run through Feb. 18.

 

Customers are still urged to make regular payments in an affordable amount to avoid disconnection in February 2021. It will be the customer’s responsibility to ensure the entire balance, including any new charges, are paid off in full. 

 

Setting up payment plans

If you prefer a formal payment plan with set monthly payments, there are two ways to request one:

  • Call Customer Service at 828-251-1122.  A Customer Service representative will be happy to assist you by setting up the payment plan and making sure you understand the details of your payment plan and payment due dates.  

 

Formal payment plan guidelines

  • Past due balance will be divided into six equal payments.
  • You may pick either the 1st or 15th of each month as your due date.
  • The payment plan WILL NOT  be reflected on your Combined Utility Statement.  The balance forward and total amount due boxes on your Combined Utility Statement will reflect the entire amount due, even though the balance is protected by the payment plan. 
  • The amount in the current charges box must be paid by the payable on or before date, or your water service will be disconnected until this amount is paid.

 

As always, City utility customers will be notified well in advance of disconnection, two weeks in advance by mail and a week in advance by phone.

 

Many ways to pay

  • Pay by phone: Have your Combined Utility Statement handy, as you will need your account and customer numbers to ensure your payment is posted to the correct account. Dial 828-251-1122 (press option 1). You can make a payment from your checking or savings account, or with a Visa, MasterCard or Discover credit card, or an e-check.  There is no convenience fee for paying over the phone. Find out more at this link.
  • Pay online: The City has an online customer self service payment system. Online payment is fast, convenient and easy. Visit our Customer Portal to enroll in e-billing. This helpful online billing FAQ may guide you through the process as well.
  • Pay through the mail: Your Combined Utility Statement is mailed in a send and return envelope. Ensure that the City’s address is showing in the window when you mail your payment in. If you lose the envelope, the address is City of Asheville, Customer Services Division, P.O. Box 733, Asheville, NC 28802
  • Drop boxes: The City has two payment drop boxes: City-County Plaza, first roundabout when entering the plaza, and City of Asheville Public Works Building, 161 S. Charlotte St.

 

Background

On March 13, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, Asheville Water Resources suspended all water account disconnections due to non-payment of City of Asheville combined utility bills.  On March 31, 2020, the state of North Carolina followed suit with an executive order by Gov. Roy Cooper that also suspended utility disconnections due to the economic situation, such as loss of jobs, posed by the pandemic.

 

On July 28, 2020, the governor’s executive order regarding suspension of utility disconnections expired. In August 2020, the City of Asheville began notifying customers who fell behind in their payments how to set up payment plans and avoid disconnection.

 

The City of Asheville remains dedicated to ensuring that all water customers have access to clean drinking water and are able to practice good hygiene by washing their hands frequently.

 

“We understand that many of our residents continue to experience economic fallout from the pandemic, including from the recent Buncombe County order limiting restaurant capacity to 30 percent,” said Water Resources Director David Melton.  “We look forward to helping everyone who has been financially challenged due to the pandemic.”