The city of Spokane formalized plans Monday to extend a moratorium on utility shutoffs into 2022.
In recognition of the thousands of Spokane customers still behind on their utility bills, the city has extended its promise to not disconnect service until at least April .
The city is also allowing customers to sign up for an interest-free repayment plan by Nov. 30 before late fees and interest kick in.
The Spokane City Council unanimously signed off on the plan, proposed by Mayor Nadine Woodward’s administration, at its regular meeting on Monday.
A statewide moratorium on utility shutoffs had been in place since early in the COVID-19 pandemic, but Gov. Jay Inslee allowed it to expire at the end of September.
But the city decided to extend a moratorium of its own in recognition of the fact that many customers have still not caught up. More than 7,000 city utility accounts are still past due with balances accrued during the pandemic, according to city data.
After the Nov. 30 deadline to sign up for an interest-free repayment plan, interest and late fees will begin to accumulate on overdue balances. Repayment plans are offered at lengths of three, six or nine months, but customers with balances greater than $1,000 may qualify for a plan between 12 and 18 months.
The city is not forgiving past due balances, but utility assistance is available through its U-Help Program.
The program is managed by SNAP, and those in need of assistance should call 509-456-SNAP.
The moratorium does not apply to private utility companies that operate in Spokane for services such as electric and gas. It applies only to city utilities, which are water, sewer and solid waste removal.
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