Summit officials in a special meeting Tuesday declared a state of emergency to help contend with the outbreak of COVID-19.

The declaration essentially means the town complies with the state’s response to the coronavirus and will be eligible to receive disaster-related funds, should they become available.

The emergency declaration also allows the town to bypass some bid law requirements should officials need to purchase anything in relation to the disaster.

The town council also adopted a resolution stating that Summit is in compliance with a March 14 state order that forbids the disconnection of utilities for 60 days. The town provides water and sewer services to residents. Garbage collection also is included in water bills.

Mayor Percy Robinson reminded residents that while the town won’t shut off water service, residents are still responsible for paying their bills.

“People must understand that even though they’re saying in 60 days we will not cut you off or charge you a penalty, however, at the end of those 60 days … this order does not eliminate the requirement that utility customers to pay their utility bills,” he said. “It is encouraged that they do pay it. They’re going to owe it.”

Councilwoman Pauline Monley noted that some residents may be put out of work as businesses close or observe quarantines amid the pandemic.

“There’s quite a few people that’s not working. If they’re not able to make that full amount, can they make a partial payment?” she asked.

“We’ve been doing that,” Robinson said.

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