Vincent said he is an optimist and this will make Baker a more citizen-friendly city, even though utilities may not be reconnected the same day payment is received.
Mayor Harold Rideau opposed the ordinance realizing the difficulties it will cause the billing department and, as mayor, he said he cannot tell someone with little kids or an elderly person that they will be without utilities overnight in winter weather.
It was suggested that people with cut-off complaints take them to their council members who approved the ordinance.
The ordinance lowers disconnect fees on delinquent accounts from $60 to $30. Reconnection fee remains $25. The deadline to pay would be extended from the close of business one day to the start of business the next day, giving delinquents overnight to pay their late bills.
Utility workers are already working until midnight on overtime to handle cut-offs, then cut-ons after the bills are paid. Customers must be present so workers can enter homes to relight gas pilots. The changes mean customers will be without utilities overnight, Julie McCulloch, director of public works, said.
The same customers, about 900, are delinquent every month and the council should find a way to reward those who pay on time, Councilman Pete Heine said.
Council members Joyce Burges and John Givens suggested the situation be revisited if difficulties arise.
In other business:
COUNCIL CLERK: The council voted unanimously to appoint Angela Canady as council clerk.
RECOGNITIONS: Councilman John Givens recognized Police Chief Mike “Snapper” Knaps for outstanding leadership in law enforcement and emergency assistance.
Givens also recognized Judge Kirk Williams for outstanding public service and his volunteer efforts in the Baker school system.
Councilman Robert Young recognized the Baker Fire Department for outstanding public service.
Rideau and Vincent recognized Ronald Alexander, a recent Southern University graduate in physics, for his 3.99 average. Alexander was accompanied by his mother Pamela, brother Denzel and Dr. Diola Bagayoko of the SU physics department. Alexander served as student marshal at graduation.
FOOD BANK: Council member Joyce Burges suggested the formation of a food bank committee to serve Baker in conjunction with the Council on Aging and Community Café. Fire Chief Danny Edwards, Heine and Gene Rives of the First United Methodist Church, volunteered.
KID FIRST TECH CENTER: Burges discussed the development of an exploratory committee to establish a Kid First Tech Center for math and science.
HERITAGE MUSEUM: “A Winter Wonderland” jazz holiday concert will be held at Baker City Hall Park, 6 p.m., Friday, Dec. 28. Walter Perry, McKinley High School band director and Baker resident, along with other musicians and singers will participate.
NEXT MEETING: The council will next meet at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013.