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Commissioner Nick Fish will discuss how to ease the cost of water and sewer bills for residents without individual meters at morning work session.

CITY OF PORTLAND - Commissioner Nick FishCommissioner Nick Fish will present the rest of the City Council on Tuesday with a plan to help reduce the cost of utility services to low-income residents, including water, sewer and stormwater bills paid by those living in multi-family buildings without individual meters.

Fish oversees the Portland Water Bureau and the Bureau of Environmental Servicves. The presentation will be made at a work session that is scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall.

The challenge of reduce utility costs to low income households who are not directly billed by the city has long vexed the council. Although a low-income discount program was first approved in 1994 and expanded over the years, it only applies to those living in residences with individual water meters.

Although the full details of the new proposal have yet to be released, Fish says it involves working with community partners to identify those in need currently missed by the program and qualifying them for assistance.

Potential partners include the Portland Housing Bueau, the Joint Office of Homeless Services, Human Solutions, Elders in Action and Home Forward, which was formerly known as the Housing Authority of Portland.

An October 2017 audit of existing program by the City Auditor's Office recommended the city study how to extend assistance to multi-family renters.

The presentation will call for the council to approve the expanded program in the next fiscal year budget shceduled to begin on July 1. Among other things, it calls for the creation of a Low-Income Services team to consolidate existing services, manage data collection and generate regular reports.

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