By Cassie McClure
Published in the Las Cruces Bulletin 12/04/20.
City Council mandated the suspension to utilities disconnections for non-payment at the start of the COVID restrictions last March. However, those suspensions could be lifted later in 2021. Utility service is a necessity at this time more than ever, however, it does cost the City to provide utilities to our customers and under law, those costs must be recovered. Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) wants to advise customers to start the conversation about paying down their bill before shut offs start.
As LCU gets closer to a time when utility disconnections may occur, it may be harder to manage if the customers have not started a repayment process with LCU; to either receive assistance with their bills or request a Promise to Pay for those who know money will be available in the near future.
Steven Valdez, LCU billing & receivables supervisor, said, “Our priority is the health and safety of our citizens during this public health crisis. But it’s important that residents try to reach out to us to learn about their options, many of which they may not have known about. It helps us to know where you are – if you know that your job may begin again after the shutdown and you can slowly pay back on your bill.”
If customers do fall behind, LCU follows a procedure that notifies customers of their past due balance. The first point of contact is a past due reminder mailed to their billing address. If there is no payment to their account, then 15 days later the customer receives a doorhanger and a message by phone, text, and email of the past due balance.
Payments can currently be made safely online at las-cruces.org or by phone at 866-426-9757 – all free of charge.
Note: the winter season gas bill assistance begins November 15, 2020. For eligibility information for the Low Income Heating Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), please contact the New Mexico Human Services Department at 800-283-4465.
LCU can be reached at 575-528-3500 from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.
PHOTO 1: Before you get a note, start a conversation about paying down debt. Give LCU Customer Central a call at (575) 541-2111 to find out the best payment option for you.