By Robert Maharry, Times Republican
According to a press release issued by the Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce Friday afternoon, Alliant Energy has turned off power at the Marshalltown Mall due to unpaid electric bills.
“It is our understanding that individual stores continue to remain open and have power inside of the stores as they are responsible for their own utilities, but that the indoor hallway lights, the bathrooms, and the exterior parking lot lights have all been shut off. The Chamber has been in touch with all Chamber member businesses as well as many others about this challenge ahead of this disconnect and is providing all available resources to assist our businesses in staying open,” the Chamber wrote in its release.
A business owner in the mall who did not wish to be identified clarified that three establishments — Oliver Beene, the Headliner and Divine Nails — have been shut down at the order of the fire marshal because they don’t have outside entrances, and if the bill is not paid by next week, it’s likely that all of the businesses in the mall could be shut down because the sprinkler system requires electricity to run.
Chamber President/CEO John Hall placed the blame for the situation on Marshalltown Development Group LLC, which is based in Great Neck, N.Y., as indicated by property records on the Marshall County Beacon website.
“This is the result of out-of-state mall ownership refusing to pay a bill that they racked up over multiple months,” Hall said. “I want to be clear that this shut off is not the result of our businesses, our community or our local mall management. The fault is squarely placed on the shoulders of the owners of the mall.”
The release goes on to indicate that the Chamber has had discussions with mall ownership, local mall management, and many businesses at the mall in an attempt to avert this “unfortunate outcome.”
“The Chamber is committed to providing whatever support possible to keep our business open, assistance in relocations, or avenues for continued sales as practical,” the release concludes.
Marshalltown Mall Manager Scott Wacha told the T-R that the ownership is “diligently working to restore power.”
Melissa McCarville, a communications specialist with Alliant, also issued a statement on behalf of the company.
“At Alliant Energy, we make every effort to work with our customers before they fall behind on payments. We offer payment plans and have procedures for late payments. We also give customers several opportunities to work through their situations, as we have done so here,” she said. “Disconnection is the very last resort. We do, however, have an obligation to treat all our customers equally. When customers don’t pay, those costs fall to everyone else, and we are mindful of our responsibility to protect others from that cost.”