This bill establishes Public Drinking Water and Sewer Ratepayer Assistance Fund and appropriates $15 million for grants to nonprofit community-based organizations, and public utilities providing domestic water or sewer service. Consideration for other utility bill payment or crisis assistance and low-income assistance programs.
Appropriates one time $15,000,000 General Funds for deposit in the Public Drinking Water and Sewer Ratepayer Assistance Fund to provide grants to qualified organizations to distribute water and sewer bill payment assistance to low-income residential households. However, HCSD estimates Other Funds for administrative and operational costs for the Public Drinking Water and Sewer Ratepayer Assistance program to be $526,820 for the 2021-23 biennium and $620,850 for the 2023-25 biennium. This means it is on-going and expect more General Funds to be appropriated in the future allowing for gifts, grants, donations, endowments or bequests from any public or private source. This becomes a redistribution of wealth.
Households across Oregon face financial hardships in paying water and sewer bills, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In December 2020, Congress passed a $900 billion COVID relief bill. In March 2021, Congress passed an additional $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill. Between both relief packages, an estimated $1.14 billion was appropriated to low-income water and wastewater utility assistance. Cities and water districts across the state have allocated funds to partner organizations to help residents in need of utility assistance. Additionally, utility providers have ceased disconnections of water and sewer service due to nonpayment, but now see increasing number of past due accounts. House Bill 3089A would establish a Public Drinking Water and Sewer Ratepayer Assistance Fund to provide grants to organizations to distribute water and sewer bill payment assistance to low-income residential households. The measure would deposit $15,000,000 in this Fund.
Duplicates local services. There already is a means for low income folks to get assistance that is offered at the City level! Each City calculates the Water and Sewer rates.