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Residents who buy from local businesses will receive discounted water bills during the coronavirus outbreak.

PMG FILE PHOTO: - North Plains City Manager Andy Varner City officials in North Plains have created a new incentive program to encourage residents to support local businesses as people remain isolated at home due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Social distancing has hit restaurants and retail stores particularly hard, especially after Gov. Kate Brown on March 23 ordered all non-essential establishments to close. Dine-in service has been temporarily prohibited at restaurants and bars, with some switching to take-out only and others closing their doors.

In response, North Plains created a "Buy Local Club," which allows residents to receive a discount on their monthly water bills based on a proportion of how much they spend at several participating local businesses.

Starting March 27, 20% of what people spend at these North Plains businesses — up to $50, for those who spend $250 or more — will be subtracted from residents' water bills each month. People have to spend at least $50 at participating businesses during the month to qualify for a credit.

"It's a way for you as a resident to save a little bit of money on your utility bill, and it's a way for our small businesses to hopefully get some more traffic and support during these times," said City Manager Andy Varner in a video message posted to Facebook.

So far, the four North Plains businesses that are participating include Hits the Spot Café, Teninty's Pizza & Subs, Robinson's LTD Flowers, and Rogue Brew Pub & Eatery.

The businesses will use punch cards with customers' names on them to keep track of purchases, which will then be referred to the city.

"The average residential water bill in North Plains is $70, so if you spend enough, and you get that $50 maximum credit, that's over half of your water bill," Varner said.

Residents will start seeing the discount on their May water bills, and it will remain in effect as long as business restrictions are in place, the city's website says.


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