Blown transformer shuts off power; residents can't pay bills

Ofelia Garcia Hunter, Alice Echo-News Journal

Residents were left in the dark Monday morning as some tried to pay their water bills or property taxes only to find out City Hall was closed because of a blown-out transformer.

"We came to pay our taxes," Justo Jimenez Sr., a resident, said.

He, along with other residents, had to return home with their unpaid bills.

In a span of 15 minutes around 10:30 a.m., more than a dozen people walked away after finding the doors to City Hall were closed. A sign on the front and side doors read that electrical repairs were being conducted.

Harold Ashley, spokesperson with AEP Texas, said the electrical transformer at City Hall was being replaced and customers would be able to do business at City Hall Tuesday.

City Manager Pete Anaya said when employees arrived at work on Monday, the building did not have any electricity.

They called the electric company and were told the transformer for the building was the problem.

He said city employees got the option of staying and working at their desks with natural light or could go home until the afternoon.

"We gave them the option to stay and work if they are next to a window," Anaya said Monday. "(The employees) have to call back about two (p.m.) to see if the electricity is back on."

Lupe Godines, who walked from her business at the Co-op on Wright Street to City Hall, said she was taking care of bills.

"I came to pay my electricity and my taxes," Godines said. "I walked all the way for nothing, but I'll be back later."

Anaya said that customers who had water bills due on Monday would get a one-day delay through Tuesday to pay their bill because of the electrical problem.

"We will make sure that the resident does not get penalized," he said. "They will get an automatic extension."