Salem residents who need help paying their utility bills can find that help right here in town.
Sherry Lea with Healthy Dent County pointed out during the April 26 meeting of the Salem utility committee that there are a number of utility assistance programs available in the community.
According to an insert placed in the most current utility bill, those agencies are as follows:
• South Center Community Action Agency
1405 S. Wines (Head Start building)
(573) 729-3500 ext. 10
• Catholic Charities
(573) 323-4044 (Make sure to say you are from Dent County)
(417) 522-5940 (cell)
• The Salvation Army Dent County Service Unit
Sherry Lea or Lacey Walker
1200 W. Rolla Road (Salem Community Center @ the Armory)
To make it easier for people needing assistance, all three organizations will come together in one location hosted by Healthy Dent County located at The Community Center @ the Armory 1200 W. Rolla Road on the following dates.
Today (May 4), 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
May 11, 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
May 18, 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
May 25, 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
People can also call and set up specific appointments as well.
Prior to the utility committee meeting, the Salem board of aldermen in a special called meeting at the Salem Community Center @ The Armory approved Mayor Brad Nash’s utility committee appointments.
The appointments include East Ward Alderman Shawn Bolerjack, West Ward Alderwoman Kim Steelman, Kevin James, John Hambacker, Catherine Dent and Gary Brown.
During the utility committee meeting – which was a two-hour discussion between the utility committee, city officials and around a dozen members of the public that came to the meeting as concerned citizens and observers – the discussion ultimately spawned a plan about how to get utility bills up to date.
The plan is to offer options for Salem citizens to choose from, including:
• process a bill in early June for usage from Feb. 8-May 31 to pay in full,
• work with the city on a payment plan.
In June, a bill including the full amount that citizens owe will be mailed out, according to city administrator Ray Walden. Utility bills are also expected to be mailed out this week for a 30-day period ending Feb. 8.
No action will take place until the Board of Aldermen meets and votes on a plan. The plan was on the agenda for the Monday night meeting, after The Salem News went to print.
No policy was made April 26 regarding the $1.3 million bill the city is facing from the February cold snap. The utility committee agreed to reconvene to discuss that again once more of the specific data is brought before them.