As the Federal Shutdown continues for a fourth week, the city of Kyle is planning to assist its utility customers who might be impacted by the impasse.
Kim Hilsenbeck, Kyle communications specialist, said the city is offering its in-place utility payment deferment plan to customers who are furloughed federal employees.
The plan, which exists to all Kyle residents, allows utility billing representatives to work with those who experience “temporary hardships” to defer payments on a temporary basis. Kyle utility customers pay for water, wastewater, stormwater services and trash pickup.
According to a release, the city will develop deferment plans for federal employees who are experiencing hardships during the shutdown, whether they are being paid by the federal government at this time or not. Each situation will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis; federal employees will be required to validate employment when they apply.
Hilsenbeck said Kyle ordinance doesn’t allow the city to give away utility services, but does give the ability to defer payments for a short period of time. It is unknown at this time how many furloughed federal workers in Kyle have utilized the deferment plan.
“It’s a stopgap measure to help those who are having trouble paying their bills because of the shutdown,” Hilsenbeck said. However, Kyle utility billing can only defer payments on a temporary basis. A timeframe for each deferment is unknown at this time.
Alex Villalobos, Kyle City Council District 4, said city officials are trying to “get ahead” of issues felt by furloughed employees and offer help during the shutdown. Kyle is providing contacts to resources such as the Hays County Food Bank, Allied Services of Kyle (ASK) and other organizations and non-profits. Villalobos said Kyle’s placement on the Interstate 35 corridor could mean a high number of people commute to either Austin or San Antonio to work at a federal job.
Villalobos said the program could also help federally funded businesses and developments that could be feeling the pinch, too. That includes helping those who operate or live in federally subsidized housing complexes in the city.
“What we’re trying to do is get out ahead of it and address any shortfalls for individuals for basic living needs,” Villalobos said.