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Opening back up for business… Elizabethton City Hall set to reopen July 1st with a host of changes

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR STAFF
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com
With a new month fastly approaching, the word was received on Monday that the Elizabethton City Hall is making plans to reopen their doors to the public but not without changes that the public needs to be well aware of when the doors open on July 1, 2020.
The most notable change is that utility bills, such as water and electricity, will not be taken inside but customers must continue to use the Elizabethton Electic System on Hatcher Lane or pay through the drive-through at City Hall.
Anyone entering the building to pay a utility bill will be asked to leave and follow the procedure above for making payment. Along with making payments at these two physical locations, those bills can still be mailed in, called in, or can be paid online.
“We really need the public to understand that when we do open that the operational flow has changed,” stated Preston Cobb, Elizabethton Finance Director and City Clerk.
“We have had to evaluate how we were going to social distance. We cannot social distance downstairs and accommodate the amount of walk-in traffic for utility matters.
“It’s different at Hatcher Lane where they have a nice lobby and have social distancing in place at the electric system.”
Cobb could not reiterate it enough that all walk-in traffic will be directed to go to the electric company or through the drive-through at City Hall to pay their utility bills.
To help expedite service to the customers at City Hall, Cobb said plans were in place to add a second drive-through at the location.
“We are installing a second drive-through,” said Cobb. “We are going to put a tube system in place just like the banks and hopefully that will speed up their service here.”
Cobb did go on to say there are some payments that can be made inside City Hall.
“The property taxes – you can walk in and pay them here,” Cobb stated. “You can also pay your court fees, police fees and fines, and permits because of the volume of those types of traffics, we can social distance for those.
“We can’t do both. We can’t accommodate the amount of walk-in traffic on the first and third of the month and keep them six feet apart.”
Cobb went on to add that the second drive-through should be completed by the July 1st opening.
Customers also need to be aware that the flow of traffic will be altered for those coming in to do business in person inside City Hall.
“We are going to change the flow of traffic downstairs so that when you do come in to pay your property taxes that you don’t have to turn around and walk through the people in line. After paying, they will walk down the hallway and straight out of the back door,” Cobb commented.
“That will help too. We are doing the best we can but we also need the citizens to help because I know they have been patient with us since we have been closed.”
Both the front and the back door will be open. Someone will be available at the entrance to the payment department to make sure that the flow is followed per social distancing guidelines.