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The Okeechobee Utility Authority, based upon the Governor’s “Safer at Home” order issued in April 2020 which restricted business and school openings, took action to lessen the impacts of utility billings on those that were directly impacted by business closings. The OUA Board of Directors temporarily waived the shut-off for non-payment of the monthly utility billing and suspended the application of penalties and interest on the unpaid accounts. The OUA Board did not forgive these unpaid bills and fees nor did the OUA try to ascertain the ability to pay by the customer. It was assumed that there was a financial impact due to COVID-19 and the “Safer at Home” order.
It is now almost August 2020, the restrictions of the April 2020 order have been eased and most businesses are open, not all, most. It appears that schools will reopen in August.
The OUA is moving forward with rescinding the temporary action taken earlier. Beginning with the August bill, the OUA expects all outstanding utility fees, penalties and interest to be paid. The account holder will have three options:
1.) Pay the entire amount due;
2.) Contact the OUA office to implement a payment plan. The payment plan will require the account holder to pay in full the current fees due. The total amount due related to previous unpaid bills will be financed (at 1% simple interest) and spread out over a maximum of 12 months. The actual payment plan requirements will be based upon an individual account total, past financial history and payment plan policy. Future utility billings will need to paid in full and on-time.
3.) Due to ongoing financial hardship, the account holder may obtain financial hardship forms from the OUA (website - see link below), fill them out by the account holder, employer and financial institutions and return them to the OUA. If the account holder documentation meets the financial hardship threshold, then the account holder will be eligible for waiver of penalties and interest on unpaid bills, interest free and an extended payment plan. However, current and future monthly bills will be required to be paid in full and on-time.
The Okeechobee Utility Authority would like to have a response by August 13, 2020. The August billing will already be processed and mailed showing the current billing as well as the past due amounts. As with current billing policy, the amount shown is due when received, however, there is a billing period of approximately twenty-one days from the date of processing before a bill is considered late and further penalties will apply (see imprinted dates, upper right-hand corner of monthly billing statement). Additionally, if the bill remains unpaid and the account owner has not contacted the OUA office, then shut-off procedures will apply several days after the late date.
Please call (863-763-9460) the OUA main office and speak to Lyn Lowe (X-117) or Kristy (X-118).