By Scott Schmidt, OMN Photographer
Although Corvallis has resumed shutting off water for nonpayment, Public Information Officer Patrick Rollens stated that water service shut-offs are a last resort, after the city has exhausted all other efforts to make contact with the customer.
“We are always willing to work with customers to craft a payment plan that works for them, or to connect them with assistance programs,” Rollens said via email. “A very small number of customers, unfortunately, don’t respond to these repeated efforts.”
City Services offers two programs for residents: the Emergency Billing Assistance Program and Low Income Assistance.
The Emergency Billing Assistance Program connects residents with resources to help pay monthly bills if they are behind on payments and are facing water shut-off. This program is funded from donations that are provided by customers, distributing about $2,000 annually.
The Low Income Assistance program is relatively new, and is set to begin on Jan. 1. It is designed to assist with the City Services bill which includes payment for water.
“Currently, the Low Income Assistance Program is funded by a 35 cent surcharge that appears on the monthly City Services bills for all customers,” Rollens said. “We haven’t finalized the total amount of credit that will be provided to applicants. It could be as much as $25 per applicant, but it might be a reduced amount, which would enable us to serve more applicants.”
Details will be discussed further at the City Council’s meeting held on Dec. 7.
If a customer is unable to qualify for the Low Income Assistance Program, there are other options available for Corvallis residents.
“Community Services Consortium is a local service provider that administers a number of assistance programs on behalf of area agencies, including the City of Corvallis,” Rollens said. “CSC also has caseworkers and support specialists that work regularly with non-English speakers to help them navigate various assistance programs at the local, state, and federal level.