Zachary residents who couldn’t pay their utility bills during the coronavirus shutdown can now set up installment plans to pay off their balances under a new program.

The City Council agreed June 23 to create the COVID-19 Utility Payment Program, which will allow people who missed payments in March, April and May to catch up over the next six months.

 To participate, people must turn in a form to the city utilities office indicating they experienced at least one of three conditions:

  • They were unable to work because they or an immediate family member contracted the coronavirus.
  • They were unable to work because they were ordered to quarantine.
  • They were laid off or furloughed.

More information is available on the program from the utilities office at (225) 654-6871.

In other business, the council approved a certificate of substantial completion for a new 500,000-gallon water tower located near the Zachary Youth Park. Construction is finally finished after months of delays, and the tower has been online since May 14, City Attorney John Hopewell said.

The council also approved a special counsel contract allowing the Zachary-based Kaster and Cop law firm to represent the city in a suit against Caldwell Tanks, of Kentucky, which was awarded a $1.58 million contract to build the tower in November 2018. Further information was not discussed during the meeting.

Mayor David Amrhein said in March that he intended to charge Caldwell Tanks $1,000 for each day it missed its deadline. The project was originally planned to be completed in the fall of 2019 but repeatedly fell behind schedule due to rain and problems with a subcontracted painting crew.

The council also agreed to introduce an ordinance declaring three houses and several pieces of furniture and other items in the Zachary Historic District as surplus — a move that will allow the city to auction them off. 

Details are still being worked out on how people will be able to bid on the houses — once owned by the Allison, Bauman and McHugh families — and the artifacts they contain, Hopewell said. 

City leaders previously held a workshop where they discussed what to do with the historic houses, which sit at the original center of Zachary and are in need of costly repairs.

 In other action:

  • Marlon Lemond, city planning director, said his staff along with the Villavaso and Associates planning firm are updating permit application forms, staff manuals, zoning maps and other documents related to the Unified Development Code. They’re also working on creating new special use permits, such as for mobile and manufactured homes.
  • Councilman Lael Montgomery recognized several young people who organized a recent peaceful protest calling for racial justice. Montgomery also thanked the Zachary Police Department for its officers’ help at the event.