Westerville residents and businesses will see "zero balance due" on their utility bills for April 15.

Based on economic uncertainties associated with the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the city of Westerville is enacting a payment holiday for all residential and business utility accounts for bills for March usage.

Westerville City Council unanimously approved a relief program March 17 to waive entire bills for the current month’s payment for electricity, water, sewer and refuse services. The Westerville Electric Division is municipally owned.

The city’s finance department has estimated the total cost of the holiday at roughly $5.5 million.

“These utility funds will endure this lost revenue for the time being given the extraordinary economic conditions impacting our community,” City Manager David Collinsworth said. “Once the COVID-19 crisis is over and the economy rebounds, we will evaluate the fiscal condition of these utility funds and may adjust rates over time to ensure adequate fund balance, but such adjustments are not a certainty at this point.”

If residents and businesses are able, city officials encourage “paying it forward” by making a donation to a Westerville-based nonprofit or charitable organization that can provide further assistance for food, housing, financial assistance or mental-health counseling needs during these challenging times.

Such organizations include but are not limited to Concord Counseling, Neighborhood Bridges, Westerville Area Resource Ministry, Westerville Caring & Sharing and Westerville Helps.

Although the precise process to modify the bill still is being finalized, the effect will be that no payment will be required for bills normally due April 15, according to a news release from the city.

Bills sent at the end of the month will show a “zero balance due” or will carry a similar message to customers.