COPPERAS COVE, TX — The City of Copperas Cove announced Thursday they will be holding a town hall meeting on November 22 at 6 p.m. in the Civic Center to discuss its separation from FATHOM.
According to a press release from the City, the 15-year contract will end more than 11 years early after FATHOM said in a video conference they will be going out of business.
Terri Deans is one of several Copperas Cove residents that have voiced concerns with FATHOM over the last few years. Deans even joined a Facebook group of nearly 300 people titled "Copperas Cove Residents Fed up with Fathom."
"FATHOM has been a black eye for our city. In the initial stages of FATHOM coming on board with us, they had very poor customer service reaction time, they had poor billing timing, they had a poor system set up all together,” said Deans.
FATHOM said they will be discontinuing all contracted services as early as the end of November.
"We actually met with FATHOM by video conference, and at that time we were notified that at the end of November, they would be ceasing operations and service to their clients,” said Copperas Cove City Manager Ryan Haverlah. "Our city attorney is evaluating the consequences of the contract and the action of going out of business on FATHOM's part."
The closure will impact over a dozen cities across the nation, five of which are in Texas, including roughly 14,000 residents in Copperas Cove. The City added they are trying to be as transparent about the situation as possible.
“We pulled together our resources to begin evaluating the options, consequences, listening to what FATHOM had to say yesterday, and decided it was best that we communicate with our customers about what is going on,” said Haverlah. "We talked to them almost on a daily basis, if not an hourly basis. Through those communications, not one time were we notified or hinted at the possibility of FATHOM going out of business."
The change is something Deans said is a positive step toward a better future.
"I certainly feel with a very high level of confidence that we are finally going to be headed in the right direction, and I do trust that the city manager will have a plan enacted very quickly,” said Deans.
Copperas Cove city leaders will meet with FATHOM representatives during the week of November 18 through November 22. Following the meeting with representatives, the City will hold a town hall meeting with citizens to answer any questions they may have.
In the meantime, the City is advising residents to continue making regularly scheduled payments on utility accounts until further notice. City leaders added the city will see no interuption in water.
Here is the full statement from Copperas Cove leaders about the separation:
The City of Copperas Cove received email notification from FATHOM this past Saturday, November 9, 2019, that they will be going out of business. The email stated in part that “Despite a massive effort this year, we [FATHOM] have not been able to secure an investment or additional debt to save our business”. The City of Copperas Cove and FATHOM entered into a partnership on May 17, 2016.
FATHOM hosted a webinar early Tuesday morning with clients throughout the nation to provide further details on the situation, leading City administration to believe FATHOM will discontinue all contracted services as early as the end of November 2019. To say we are astounded by this announcement is an understatement. While City administration was aware of and understood the day-to-day challenges faced over the past 3½ years, we are disappointed that FATHOM representatives not once spoke of or alluded to this possibility.
We are sharing this information with our citizens and customers in an effort to be transparent about this situation and will continue to provide updates as new information is available. At this point, we are privy to very limited information and continue to seek answers to questions. Calls or visits to Utility Administration to verify or ask questions about the matter, while important, will only slow down local day-to-day operations so please be patient and know updates will be provided as soon as possible.
Regarding account payments, until further notice customers are encouraged to continue making regularly scheduled payments on utility accounts. The revenues received through bill payments will continue to be received by the City of Copperas Cove.
Lastly, FATHOM representatives will meet face-to-face with City administration early next week to further discuss the situation. We will continue to evaluate our options in an effort to develop a transition plan and way forward. City administration anticipates hosting a Town Hall meeting late next week to provide an update and receive questions from our citizens. Further information on that event will be released later this week.”
25 News tried to track down FATHOM representatives at an address in Austin that's listed on the Company's, however, a different company was occupying the space and said they had been there for 2 months.
The company that leases out the office space said FATHOM moved months ago and they don't know where the company went.
25 News is in email corespondence with the company and is hoping ot provide more updates soon.