Council approves revised utility assistance program

A council committee has approved a revised utility assistance program after watching a report on Action News Five.

City Council Member Wanda Halbert introduced a resolution after seeing  stories about two women whose utilities were recently cut off. Halbert wants the city to set aside $2.5 million to help those who are legitimately in need.

"I saw the two stories on channel 5 and they were both very alarming," Halbert said. "It is very sad when people don't know who to call or what to do. And when it is extremely hot or extremely cold, they should not have to live in those conditions."

Council member Bill Morrison said the council has approved such a measure before.

"We had approved it, but the mayor decided he wanted to spend it on other things. Made it part of his cut. Without consulting us. This puts it back in but puts it under the council control," Morrison said.

The money for the program would come out of the city's $80 million budget surplus.

It is set to go before the full council in two weeks.