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COVID Payment Plan available through Aug. 27, relief fund exhausted

Franklin City Manager Amanda C. Jarratt emphasized ways the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is still being strongly felt in the community during her report to the City Council on Aug. 23.

Amanda C. Jarratt

She noted that the COVID Municipal Relief Fund is exhausted. However, people still have through Aug. 27 to get on the COVID Payment Plan that allows for payment of a bill over a 24-month period.

At a previous council meeting, she explained how the relief fund worked, stating that relief fund payments were available for accounts that were 30 days past due. The payments were for water, sewer and electric usage only. They would not pay for garbage usage, late fees, penalties or taxes. An application was needed for each payment, and payments were not guaranteed. 

“They will be made on a first come, first serve basis until the fund is depleted,” she wrote in an Aug. 5 report. “As of this writing there is $27,244.25 remaining in the above-referenced fund. By the end of this week, 181 customers will have received $115,329.25 in aid in the last 30 days. Cutoffs for nonpayment will resume on Aug. 30.”

At the Aug. 23 council meeting, she said, “The COVID Municipal Relief Fund is exhausted. So all of the funds, the $754,000 that was made available to the City of Franklin, have been utilized.”

But she added that people “need to come in by Friday to get on the COVID Payment Plan that allows you to pay your bill over a 24-month period.”

“We’ve tried to emphasize it every meeting, and the utility billing staff is making everyone aware, and there will be a note in the next month’s utility bills that things are reverting back to normal to notify everyone,” she said. “But again, (people) would need to come in by this Friday to get on the COVID Payment Plan, but the assistance funds that we had received are exhausted.”

Jarratt also noted to council members that Franklin, like other localities, is seeing increases in COVID-19 cases.

“We had three new cases today, and now we’re averaging four new cases per week,” she said Aug. 23. “Unfortunately, we have had several deaths in the city. So we’re currently at 1,232 total cases of COVID, and again, that’s cumulative since the beginning of the pandemic.”

The Virginia Department of Health is also reporting, as of Aug. 25, that Franklin is up to 34 COVID deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

She said the City of Franklin is continuing to work with various entities for the provision of vaccinations.

“You can receive a vaccination at all of the local pharmacies, so we would just encourage individuals that are interested in obtaining the vaccine to utilize the resources locally that allow them to do that,” she said.