Spokane City Council wipes away past-due city utility bills of low-income residents
Dec. 12, 2022 Updated Mon., Dec. 12, 2022 at 9:11 p.m.
In a matter of weeks, the Spokane City Council has wiped away most past-due city utility bills.
On Monday, the council voted 5-2 to approve the allocation of $7 million in additional American Rescue Plan Act COVID-19 relief funds, including $4 million to cover delinquent utility bills of economically challenged customers.
Council members Michael Cathcart and Jonathan Bingle voted against the ordinance but did not explain their decision during the meeting.
This follows the council’s decision in November to accept nearly $1.9 million from the Washington state Department of Commerce to pay the overdue utility bills of low-income residents incurred between March 2020 and December 2022. Eligible residents must have pre-qualified for assistance through other low-income utility assistance programs.
“This will benefit our most economically challenged people,” said Council President Breean Beggs.
More than 8,600 city residents are behind on their utility bill payments, collectively owing nearly $8 million, according to a staff report.
Altogether, these funds could cover around three-fourths of all outstanding utility bills for city residents. The funds will be targeted towards the residents with greatest economic need, Beggs said.
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