Aiken City Council on Monday voted unanimously to waive late fees for payments due on federal holidays and during states of emergency.
Payments for City services, taxes and fees must be made by 5 p.m. the following business day, however. If not, a penalty will be assessed.
In 2011, Section 2 of the City code was changed after meeting with business owners who wanted flexibility when bills were due on weekends and City holidays. Monday’s amendment goes one step further to include federal holidays and states of emergency, as determined by City Manager John Klimm, who was granted authority by Council to waive due dates if it is determined that citizens can not safety travel to area post offices during severe weather and other potentially hazardous situations that might affect timely bill pay. A perfect example is the winter storm of 2014 that covered Aiken in more than an inch of ice and caused power outages for days.
Currently, the U.S. Postal Service observes 10 federal holidays:
• New Year’s Day
• Martin Luther King Jr. Day
• George Washington’s Birthday
• Memorial Day
• Independence Day
• Labor Day
• Columbus Day
• Veterans Day
• Thanksgiving Day
• Christmas Day
The resolution reads in part, “City Council has now determined there are times when City offices may be open, but there is a federal holiday and the post office is not open to accept or deliver mail.” Specifically, those holidays include Washington’s Birthday, Columbus Day and Veterans Day, when the City remains open for business.
The new ordinance became retroactive on Feb. 1, but City Council had not voted on it until March 13, when it passed on first reading.
The last federal holiday was MLK Day, observed Feb. 20. Late fees that might have been issued for delinquent payment to the City will be reimbursed, Klimm said Monday.