HOOKS, Texas — A recent shortage in Federal Reserve coins may soon have some Hooks residents and city officials hoping for some change — but not in a political sense.
Earlier this week, Hooks municipal officials posted a notice stating that "Due to the shortage of coins from the Federal Reserve, effective Monday July 13, the city will be asking all residents needing to pay for municipal services, to pay with EXACT change or with a check or money order — or with the use of either a credit card or debit card."
The notice goes on to state that "Should EXACT change not be possible, the city bill will be rounded up to the nearest dollar and a credit will be applied your account."
The notice further adds that " NO CHANGE WILL BE RENDERED."
The city also apologized for any inconvenience that the request may cause.
Hooks city Secretary Andria Whitehurst said the notice will remain in effect until further notice, or at least until a local bank can start issuing coins.
"Once the banks start getting coins, we will have change," she said. "The banks have advised us to put out this notice."
Whitehurst added that Bowie County's public water office on Farm to Market Road 1398, has also issued the same notice which will also take effect Monday.
Whitehurst said this is the first time since she's been city secretary that the city has had to issue such a notice. She added besides paying water bills, some of the other municipal payments people make, include fines for citations and for safety inspections as well as building permits - however she further added that the water bill payments make up well more then 50 percent of the bills the city collects on.
"For water bill payments, at least 25 to 30 percent of our water customers still pay with cash" she said.
The City of Hooks, however, is not alone in modifying the way it accepts cash and coin payments.
A nationwide coin shortage is bringing a difference in the way retailers are accepting payments.
Signs are posted on some local retailers' doors and Coinstar machines in the Texarkana area informing customers of the coin shortage and their methods of dealing with it.
In mid-June, the Federal Reserve released a statement regarding the coin shortage.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted the supply chain and normal circulation patterns for U.S. coin. In the past few months, coin deposits from depository institutions to the Federal Reserve have declined significantly and the U.S. Mint's production of coin also decreased due to measures put in place to protect its employees. Federal Reserve coin orders from depository institutions have begun to increase as regions reopen, resulting in the Federal Reserve's coin inventory being reduced to below normal levels," according to the statement.
The U.S. Mint is the issuing authority for coins, but the Federal Reserve manages coin inventory and distribution to banks and credit unions, according to the statement.
"The Federal Reserve is working on several fronts to mitigate the effects of low coin inventories. This includes managing the allocation of existing Fed inventories, working with the Mint, as issuing authority, to minimize coin supply constraints and maximize coin production capacity, and encouraging depository institutions to order only the coin they need to meet nearterm customer demand," according to the statement.
Meanwhile, at least one local bank is not feeling a pinch in the coin shortage.
"We tried to prepare ahead of time for this and thank goodness it really hasn't affected us at the local level," said James Bramlett, Farmers Bank & Trust's Texarkana market president.
Bramlett said Farmers Bank & Trust officials had been hearing about and reading about the coin shortage and prepared accordingly.
Also, several people have come to Farmers' bank locations in recent weeks to use coin machines and this helps put the coins back in circulation.
Area banks work well with each other as a common courtesy to sell quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies to one another when needed, he said.
Bramlett said he thought it was a good idea for people to keep some "green folded money" on their person.
He referenced power outages as reasons for keeping cash on hand.