County hopes new system makes it easier to get MLGW help

Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton never wants to see hundreds of people waiting outside in the cold trying to get utility assistance. So the county has a new plan for those with who can't meet pay their bills, a call center.

"We hope we'll forever end the need for individuals to come out in the elements and stand in a long line," said Wharton.

MLGW has sent out roughly 12, 000 cut off notices as of January 25th. The utility sends out roughly 800 a day.

Those who receive notices and meet the federal income requirement, must now set up an appointment through the call center to meet with a Shelby County Community Services Agency representative. Money is limited.

CSA has roughly $535,000 and can only give one time assistance of $500 per customer. So if your bill is more than $500, you will still need to get help from another charitable organization.

"We can not release the $500, until they show us they have a source to pay the remaining amount," said Wharton.

Mayor Wharton acknowledges that some of the poorest people may not have access to a phone, but he says the call center is the best system. The call center will operate at no cost to tax-payers. 30 volunteers from the county trustees office will answer the phones.

The first day you can call, is January 30th. The call center will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. If you need help call 545-2200. The call center will remain open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each of the following days until the money for utility assistance runs out.