The Lander City Council approved a resolution this week updating the eligibility requirements for low-income utility rate discounts.
City clerk Rachelle Fontaine presented the proposed changes during a work session last month, explaining that the old eligibility requirements for low-income discounts were “confusing” and “kind of complicated,” making it difficult for residents to know whether they might qualify.
In order to “simplify the process,” Fontaine suggested removing some of the eligibility “qualifiers” that were formerly in place – for example, those referring to age and disability status.
The new requirements are based “strictly” on household size and income level, she said.
According to the resolution passed this week, any household whose combined gross annual income is 133 percent or less of the federal poverty guideline can receive a 50 percent discount on their monthly water and wastewater service fee.
Households making 133-138 percent of the federal poverty guideline can receive a 45 percent discount, and those making 138-150 percent of the federal poverty guideline can receive a 40 percent discount, the resolution states.
Fontaine noted that discount applicants must show documentation of their gross annual income.
Councilmember Missy White agreed with Fontaine that the old eligibility requirements were “incredibly convoluted and hard to understand,” potentially “limiting” the number of people who applied for the low-income discount.
City treasurer Charri Lara said 19 households currently take advantage of the local discount, and she is “curious to see” if the changes to the eligibility requirements draw “more people and larger households” to the program.
Because “we don’t know how many people will sign up,” Fontaine said, “we’re not 100 percent sure of what affect this will have on the budget.”
She recommended the city monitor the program for six months to “see how things are going” so they can “adjust accordingly” if necessary.
For more information call the City of Lander at 332-2870.