July 6, 2010
11:00 – 11:55 a.m.
Chair Virgil Clarkson, Mary Dean, Andy Ryder
Greg Cuoio, Troy Woo, Rick Walk, Peter Brooks
Dale Lewis, Director of Housing/Emergency Services for Community Action Council Councilmember Dean moved to adopt the agenda. Councilmember Ryder seconded. Motion carried.
Utilities Assistance Program
Troy Woo, Finance Director, presented the Committee with a proposal to implement a program to assist utilities customers with payments. The idea was initiated by Deputy Mayor Virgil Clarkson who suggested establishing a utility assistance program to assist low-income utility customers with past due water bills. This program would be in addition to the existing City of Lacey utility discount program for low-income disabled and low-income senior citizens.
The City would partner with the Community Action Council of Lewis, Mason, and Thurston Counties, and the program would be modeled after the City of Shelton’s utility assistance program.
The Community Action Council partners with the City of Shelton to administer its utility assistance program. The City of Shelton collects the donations through its utility billing system and remits the funds to the Community Action Council. The Community Action Council assists recipients through the screening process and determines eligibility based on criteria set by the City of Shelton. Awards are sent directly to the utility on behalf of the eligible customers.
The City of Shelton customers can receive assistance up to $75 if funding is available. To qualify Shelton customers must meet the following three criteria:
- Total household gross income must be less than $30,000/year (equal to 125% of the poverty level for a family of 4)
- The customer’s account must be past due
- The customer must not have received assistance two times in the current calendar year
Dale Lewis, Director of Housing and Emergency Services of the Community Action Council, city staff, and the committee discussed the issues of requiring accounts to be past due, promoting the program, income determination factors, the balance between providing funding for those with the most need and distributing funding to as many customers as possible, the expected demand versus the expected funding level, criteria of other assistance programs, and providing City startup funds.Councilmember Ryder moved to forward a recommendation to full Council for the authorization of a professional services agreement with the Community Action Council to implement a utility assistance program modeled after the City of Shelton’s program, for the authorization to provide $7,500 of startup funds for the program, and requiring a review of the program after two years to measure its effectiveness. Councilmember Dean seconded. The motion carried.