The taps have been turned on for Barrie’s residential low-income water bill support program.
It’s operational as of today, with applications available on the city’s website.
“We’re well on our way to be able to handle any flows that come in,” said city treasurer Craig Millar, referring to applications, which will be processed manually.
City council approved the program last spring, but this is the implementation.
This program provides financial assistance to low-income households in Barrie to help offset water/wastewater bill costs. Successful applicants will be credited a portion of their bill. The credit provided will not exceed 40 per cent of the total water/wastewater bill, to a maximum of $60 per billing cycle.
This program is not designed to encourage additional consumption, and its financial impact is limited to no more than two per cent of the city’s overall water/wastewater budget, or $1.3 million.
The low-income cut-off for this program, in 2020 dollars, is $25,921 annually for a one-person household, $32,270 for two people, $39,672 for three, $48,167 for four, $54,630 for five, $61,613 for six, and $68,985 for seven people. Add two per cent for 2021 dollars.
“The program is application-based and the household income thresholds will be based on the Low Income Cut-Off (LICO) table as published by the government of Canada,” Millar said. “Supporting documentation will be required to substantiate proof of income, and applicants must re-apply to the program annually.”
This program builds on council's decision to freeze water rates in the 2021 budget, in part to help Barrie residents pay their bills during the pandemic.
Once approved, applicants will receive the credit for a full year from the date of approval.
Applications can be submitted by email, in person or by mail. Physical copies are available at Service Barrie, City Hall, 70 Collier St.
Applicants will receive an email or a letter that confirms approval, or reasons why the application was denied. If approved, the credit will be applied to the next water/wastewater bill.
For more information, click here.
This program is funded from the city’s water and wastewater stabilization reserves, with the full cost of the program being included in the 2022 operating budget, to be funded directly from the water and wastewater rates.
The city has hired an additional employee to administer this program, and this position is also to be funded from water and wastewater revenues.
Part of the 2021 operating budget is that staff look at the impacts of potential water bill payment deferral scenarios, to assist Barrie households with the impacts of COVID-19 during this year.
The city has 44,851 active water/wastewater billing accounts, with 42,340 of them residential.
Last year, the city waived late fees and insufficient funds charges between April and June, saving ratepayers $13,000 a month.
Payment terms were also extended from 35 to 60 days for residential properties, and 30 to 60 days for non-residential properties.
And there was a fixed-rate credit relief program where residential ratepayers negatively impacted by COVID-19 applied for a one-time credit of $68 against the fixed charges. This resulted in total savings of $185,000 for residential ratepayers who had suffered financial hardship.
In 2020, the total residential consumption in cubic metres for water and wastewater increased by 5.7 per cent compared to 2019. This increase was offset by a reduction in consumption for non-residential ratepayers of 6.6 per cent.