UPDATE: City Of Abbeville Responds To Resident Backlash Over Utility Disconnections
The unprecedented effect of COVID-19 has caused the City of Abbeville to make a tough decision that has residents upset.
UPDATE: The City of Abbeville has responded, apologizing for their tone and vowing to work with residents on a case by case basis when it comes to disconnections due to non-payment.
A post on the official City of Abbeville Facebook page announced that the city will move forward with utility disconnections, regardless of the unforeseen financial hardships that have blindsided many of their citizens in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
In the message that detailed the decision that was made at an emergency COVID-19 meeting on Thursday, The City of Abbeville reminded its citizens that they were not governed by the Louisiana Public Service Commission and their instruction to suspend disconnections due to non-payment was for "for-profit" utility companies only.
Naturally, residents who have been handcuffed by the economic impact of COVID-19 voiced their displeasure in the comments.
After receiving instant backlash Abbeville Mayor Mark Piazza commented to the citizens of Abbeville, doubling down on the "difficult but necessary decision" to move forward with the utility disconnections.
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. Not a moment goes by that your wellbeing is not on my mind, but City services cannot continue if we have no money to operate. We will seek every resource available to help those who have lost their jobs. We are in this together as a community and will see this through to a brighter future.
Other area utility companies like LUS, Cleco, Slemco have temporarily suspended disconnections for 60 days as many customers have either been laid off or currently face uncertainty with their current employment due to the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the time of this post, 8 of the nearly 400 confirmed coronavirus cases have been reported in the Acadiana area.