City to eliminate hang tags

COVINGTON -- The majority of the City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance Monday night to discontinue the use of hang tags notifying customers of pending utility cut-offs.

Now, customers will be notified of past due payments as well as the payment deadline via their utility bills.

This will save the expense of employees doing the work and will eliminate the $15 hang tag fee for customers, said Human Resources Director Ronnie Cowan. The $30 reconnection fee would still apply. Customers will be notified of the change via the city's PEG channels and their utility bills.

The council voted 4 to 2 in favor of discontinuing hang tags, with Councilmen Keith Dalton and Chris Smith opposed.

Smith said he was concerned that the resident of the property might not be the one who picks up the mail and, therefore, might not get notification. He also said that as a landlord, he prefers the hang tag system because it alerts him when there may be a problem with a tenant.

Councilwoman Hawnethia Williams, however, said she believes notification via utility bills will be more discreet for those falling behind on their bills.

"Sometimes that loud, yellow color tends to be a bit embarrassing," she said.

In other news, the council also approved the first reading of a change to the motorized carts ordinance. Previously the ordinance listed specific streets in the city where motorized carts are allowed. Now the ordinance states that carts cannot be operated on any street for which the posted speed limit is over 35 mph or on or across any street on which operation is deemed by the mayor and council to be unsafe. The 35 mph requirement has always been in place, but a citizen pointed out that speed limits change from one speed to another on some of the listed streets and carts have been using the streets in zones over 35 mph.

The ordinance is also being amended to require that motorized carts only cross streets at intersections with other streets. The first reading was unanimously approved.

The final readings of each ordinance are set to take place at the council's Tuesday, Sept. 6, meeting at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall. The meeting date has been changed to Tuesday due to the Labor Day holiday.