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Why postponing Petersburg’s water and tax bills will put the city behind in paying important bills

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PETERSBURG, VA. -- A move last week by Petersburg City Council to give citizens more time to pay their bills, will now put the City of Petersburg behind in paying theirs.

After an early Monday morning closed session, City Council emerged and went over several items, including a delay the city might have due to the changed date.

Council member Brian Moore said the "ripple effect is it will affect our commitments to VRS, South Central Waste Water, Riverside Regional Jail and the school system."

The City had committed to paying back several large debts, including the full amount to the Virginia Retirement System and South Central Waste Water on March 1, but now it has learned, the extension given by City Council will mean thousands of dollars in taxes and water bills will be delayed being paid by citizens as well.

The city said it had counted on the February 25 due date for water bills and the February 29 date for taxes, so that on March 1, payments could go out to VRS and several other agencies.

City Council could have voted Monday to go back to the original dates but Councilman Moore said "The Mayor and Council want to look out for the citizens, we just know we have to take responsibility for that decision and that was concurred today."

Petersburg Council

Council member Treska Wilson-Smith added "The correct thing would have been for that information to come up at the council meeting from someone in finance, letting us know in advance, that this may be a bad move."

Council agreed the March 15 extension will help many in Petersburg who are struggling to pay bills on a fixed income.

The March 1 payments by the city were suppose to bring VRS up to date through January, and South Central Wastewater Authority and Riverside Regional Jail current through December.

Also out of closed session, Council learned the finance department believes the forensic audit unanimously voted on by council last week, will cost approximately $300,000.

To pay for the audit, Council voted to sell several parcels of land associated with the Halifax Triangle Project and the monies received, instead of going to economic development, will be earmarked specifically to pay for the forensic audit.

Council member Treska Wilson-Smith said "It's a positive for the city to have the forensic audit".

At the end of the council meeting, the meeting was put in recess, and City Council will reconvene at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Union Train Station.