With the country in the midst of the longest government shutdown in history, Ocoee leaders are looking to offer relief for federal employees who live in the city.
City Commissioner Richard Firstner brought up the idea of providing aid to federal workers during the “commissioners’ announcements” part of the Jan. 15 meeting.
“We may or may not have a lot of federal employees in town that are on furlough,” Firstner said. “That being said, I’d like the city manager’s office to look into … how many people may be affected by this government shutdown. I know they’re having a difficult time, and I’d like to ease their situation instead of compound it.”
Firstner suggested offering relief on utility bills for those affected as a possible option. Those impacted would have to prove they are on furlough.
“Possibly, we can defer their utility bills until they get back on their feet,” Firstner said. “I’m not asking to wipe the bills out or tell them that they don’t have to pay for it. But … we (can) tell them we’re not going to charge them any late fees or any penalties for missing their payments and work with them to allow them to get back on their feet to pay these bills when they go back to work and they have the ability to do so.”
Commissioners came agreed withFirstner’s proposal to direct staff to look into the matter, Firstner said.
“There may be thousands of them out there or there may be one or two,” Firstner said. “We don’t know that, and we don’t know how that would affect our operations.”
Assistant City Manager Craig Shadrix said staff will propose a recommendation pertaining to this matter, but cautioned that determining the number of impacted residents may take a while.
“We will definitely be prepared to discuss some options at the next meeting,” Shadrix said. “I don’t know that we’ll be completely finished with all the necessary research. … (But) I would commit to between the next two meetings, we will have a firm recommendation for you and (some of) the research done.”