Help offered federal employees

Published 1:47 am Thursday, January 17, 2019

Mayor says city will offer extensions on utility bills

Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson announced yesterday that the city’s Utilities Department will work with federal employees who are furloughed or working without pay during the government’s shutdown to make sure they can keep their utilities on.

“We are talking about full-time federal employees,” Johnson said. “If they will come into the utilities office in city hall, and bring their work badges, we will make sure their power stays on.”

Once the government shutdown ends, he said, the city will work with the federal employees on payment plans to catch up their bills.

“I’m not sure how many federal employees we have who live here who are affected, but we certainly want to do all that we can to help them,” the mayor said.

Today marks the 27th day of the government shutdown, which began just before Christmas.

According to an analysis of Office of Personnel Management data published The Washington Post last week, there are 5,500 federal employees in Alabama working in the top three agencies affected by the shutdown. Of those, 2,300 are employed by NASA, 1,000 work of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (which includes the U.S. Forest Service), and 500 work for the U.S. Department of Justice. According to the DOJ website, the department’s essential law enforcement and national security functions will continue during the shutdown.

Both houses of Congress approved a bill guaranteeing federal employees back pay once the government reopened, and President Trump signed the legislation Wednesday.