Overdue for your water, sewer bills? Columbus allocates $2.5 million to help

Over 13,000 city of Columbus water and sewer customers are currently at least $150 delinquent on their bills, a threshold that in pre-COVID days meant they were endanger of having their service shut off.


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While the city currently isn’t shutting off anyone’s service, it began on Monday to move toward addressing the backlog of payments by announcing it would allocate $2.5 million in federal COVID relief for utility assistance grants to Columbus residents.

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The city is offering one-time payments of up to $750 toward an eligible Columbus water/sewer/storm water bill, and/or up to $500 toward an eligible electric bill, which applies only to a small number of customers who buy power directly from the city instead of from AEP.

The aid would put only a small dent in total overdue utility payments that Mayor Andrew J. Ginther said total almost $22 million, with $19.2 million of it for past-due sewer and water charges.

The move follows a water and sewer rate increase approved by the Columbus City Council Nov. 16, which will result in rate increases for 1.2 million water and sewer customers around Franklin County. The average impact on the typical Columbus residential customer’s bill will be an increase of about 2.5%, with customers outside of the city paying slightly more.

“We know that many residents are struggling with the economic impact of COVID-19, whether that be job loss or reduction in hours,” Ginther said. “Through (federal) CARES Act funding, we are working to help residents meet their basic needs for clean drinking water and electricity with one-time payments toward overdue utility bills.”

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To be eligible, applicants must have an active city water, sewer or power account for their residence in their name or a spouse’s name, be at least 90 days delinquent in payment, and meet at least one of the following requirements: a household income less than 150% of the federal poverty level; be enrolled in a qualifying low income program with Department of Utilities; or have proof of job loss or reduction in income due to the pandemic.

Funding is limited and will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Bill payment assistance cannot exceed the total current balance on a customer account.

Customers with delinquent accounts are also encouraged to set up a payment plan to avoid potential shut offs in the future. Details on these programs are available at: https://www.columbus.gov/payassist. For questions call 614-645-8276 during business days, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., or email [email protected]

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This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Overdue for your water, sewer bills? Columbus allocates $2.5 million to help

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