At a special Sept. 22 meeting, the Morro Bay City Council approved extending its City Utility Discount Program to June 2021 and to increase the discount for qualifying residents on their monthly water/sewer bills from 10 percent to 25 percent.
The extension was a necessary action to aid Morro Bay community members in need who are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor John Headding said.
FILE PHOTO BY GLEN STARKEY
AIDING THE COMMUNITY Morro Bay extended its Utility Discount and Utility Rebate Programs through next June in an effort to assist residents who have been impacted by COVID-19.
“We understand many folks in our community are struggling financially due to COVID-19,” Headding said. “By expanding the Utility Discount Program, we are helping those who are likely in greatest need.”
The program is available to residents who participate in Pacific Gas and Electric’s CARE program or SoCal Gas’ similar program.
According to a staff report, the city currently has more than 280 customers enrolled in the Utility Discount Program and 17 residents enrolled in the Utility Rebate Program for mobile home and apartment residents who don't have separate meters. The Utility Discount Program’s funding balance was approximately $580,000 as of June 30, enough to handle the fiscal impacts of expanding the program.
Funds for the program are separate from the general fund and are not paid for through water and sewer rates.
After the city declared a local emergency due to COVID-19, the council approved an expansion of the existing Utility Discount Program in April to include those who had been laid off or had to shutter their businesses due to the virus. At the time, the expansion was only extended through the June 2020 billing cycle.
Customers enrolled in the utility program were receiving a 10 percent rate reduction on their total monthly water and sewer bill. The increased rate reduction of 25 percent extends through the June 2021 billing cycle, at which point it will roll back to 10 percent unless the council authorizes to continue the higher rate reduction.
The council also voted to increase the city’s Utility Rebate Program from $150 a year ($12.50 a month) to $180 a year ($15 a month) with the intention of providing temporary COVID-19 relief to those in need of assistance.
Morro Bay residents who may qualify for enrollment in either program are encouraged to contact the Morro Bay Account Clerks at (805) 772-6222 for enrollment assistance and information.
In addition to these measures, the city directed staff to develop a business grant program to support businesses impacted by the virus that would be funded by Senate Bill 1090. Staff is set to bring back program options to the council in October. ∆