COVID-19 cases have recently begun to rise in the Central Virginia Health District, which includes the Hill City and surrounding counties. Health officials recorded 155 new cases this week — the largest rise in local infections in a single week since the start of the pandemic.
With 10% of the city’s workforce out of work as a result of the global health threat, the number of households behind on their water bills has more than tripled from pre-pandemic levels.
According to figures Witt presented to council last week, 1,065 accounts — or a little more than 4% of the city’s 24,000 water customers — were late on payment and subject to possible disconnect during the month of June.
Just 296 accounts were subject to disconnect during the same month last year.
Witt said late customers currently owe a collective $200,000 to the city. The average cost of a monthly water bill for a family of four is about $73.
Witt said federal rules prevent the city from using portions of the $7.1 million it was awarded as part of the CARES Act to offset lost revenue, including any money lost to water cutoff suspensions.
According to Lynchburg Water Resources Director Tim Mitchell, the city is still determining how exactly to approach the pending disconnects and could reevaluate the decision to resume cutoffs in the coming weeks. He said his office is also considering raising the threshold for cutoffs to a specific dollar amount before gradually lowering them.