On the very day Rock Island County reported no new COVID-19 cases for the first time in 15 months, Moline city council members approved rescinding the city's state of emergency declaration at the June 22 council meeting, recognizing the belief that the pandemic is finally under control and Illinois has reopened.
The emergency order was implemented at the beginning of the pandemic last year, which kept residents from being charged late fees and placed a hold on delinquencies. The city also did not turn off water or sewer services during the emergency period and businesses were granted a deferment on paying city taxes or HAZMAT permit fees.
Going forward, Moline Finance Manager Keith Verbeke said if residents do not pay their utility bill within the 20-day invoice date late, a late fee equaling 5% of the balance will be assessed.
"Basically, we are going to go back to normal," Verbeke said. "Since March 1, the city has been turning water services off if the (resident) doesn't complete a payment plan. Our legal counsel gave us permission to start turning off water. The odd thing is, when you turn off water, they suddenly find the money; they find a way. There are agencies like Project NOW and Salvation Army who help."
Verbeke said 290 households have had their water turned off since March 1. Of that number, 256 households had water service restored after paying their bill; 34 properties remain unpaid and without water.
Verbeke said one thing that will not change is a pause on downtown parking enforcement. In an effort to encourage people to visit downtown businesses, parking tickets will not be issued.
Rock Island City Manager Randy Tweet said the city never officially enacted an emergency order, but late fees were not assessed on residents during the height of the pandemic.
"We are no longer holding off on anything," Tweet said. "We are back to normal with our water billing."
Tweet said as of March 1, 307 Rock Island households have been on the list to have their water turned off.
"Some of these may not have been shut off, sometimes people pay the day of the disconnect and are not actually shut off," Tweet said. "Or we find the shut off valve does not work and we move them to a different list."