Sandy City Council approves program to aid low-income customers
With an increase in wastewater rates effective this month, low-income customers will now have the opportunity to apply for a discount on their charges after the Sandy City Council approved the creation of a rate assistance program.
At its Monday, Feb. 3, meeting, the City Council approved a rate assistance program for those with an annual income of $31,284, or less, making those households eligible for a discounted rate of 50% off of their bill.
This income requirement is based on 185% of the federal poverty level for a two-person household.
The 98% rise in rates increased most wastewater bills from an average of $29.94 per month to about $52.35 per month for residential customers. The discount could then lower the rates for those who apply and qualify by about $26.
According to City Manager Jordan Wheeler, about 6.2% of the Sandy utility customer population are eligible for the discount through these proposed income requirements, living at or below the federal poverty income level.
Those who apply and are approved by March 5 may receive a retroactive credit from their January bill.
"This last week we've heard from a lot of people in our community about this rate increase and how it affects them," said Mayor Stan Pulliam. "It's really important for us as Council to take significant steps to look out for our most vulnerable citizens. I'm incredibly proud of the steps we've taken."
Both Pulliam and Councilor Laurie Smallwood were initial advocates of a rate assistance program to defer costs of the new rate for those who are low-income or living on a fixed income.
"I think it's going to be great," added Councilor Smallwood. "I'll be interested to see the results. Hopefully people feel the increase is a minimal effect (from this program)."
Applications and more information about the program are available online at www.ci.sandy.or.us/UtilityBillCustomerAssistanceProgram.
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