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Independence extends utility shutoff moratorium

By The Examiner staff

Independence says it will continue suspending utility shutoffs for another month due to technical issues related to billing, as well as the ongoing pandemic’s effect on citizens.

The moratorium on residential and commercial shutoffs has now been extended to Feb. 28. Previously, shutoffs were suspended until Jan. 30.

Because of a ransomware attack and the city’s subsequent precautionary measures, Independence did not distribute utility bills during December and only started to resume billing last week. Customers will see a 60-day billing cycle starting on the last day meters were read in 2020. Any credit on a customer’s account, including any payments made to the account in December, will apply toward the two-month charge.

For customers with electronic account withdrawal, the next withdrawal will be on the January billing statement’s due date.

Utility customers can contact the customer service at 816-325-7930 to discuss payment arrangements if needed, or they can email ucs@indepmo.org. Arrangements can be made to extend the time for that bill to March 31.

The city also has waived late-payment penalties and fees, as well as credit card fees, until further notice. According to a release, the city has absorbed $750,000 in credit card fees since it waived those for customers.

The city says payment information entered on the online payment portal is provided directly to the city’s payment processor and is not maintained in city systems that possibly got hit by the ransomware attack in December. The city had taken the payment site and other services offline as a precautionary measure while trying to recover from that attack.