“This is quite an issue for seniors living on limited income,” Councilwoman Dot Wood said. “I am suggesting we change the amount of income seniors can receive each month and still qualify for the senior rate to $1,200.”
The council discussed amending the ordinance at a work session and tabled the issue at Monday’s council meeting. The council is expected to vote on the ordinance at its Dec. 12 meeting.
“We have 55 households currently qualified for senior water rates,” Mayor Bill Hereford said.
Hereford said the number would increase to 180 eligible seniors with the monthly income increase.
“We are not talking about a mass number of people,” he said. “It seems reasonable to me. The city will not lose a whole lot of money.”
Under the water ordinance that went into effect in 2005, a household occupied by one person age 60 or older whose income does not exceed $835 per month qualifies for the senior water rate.
A household occupied by two people only age 60 or older whose total income does not exceed $937.50 per month may receive the senior water rate.
Councilman Greg Gossett said the current senior water rate is $8.32 per month for the first 2,000 gallons of water and $3.55 per 1,000 gallons over that. The senior sewer rate is $8 per month for the first 2,000 gallons and $3.41 per 1,000 gallons over that. The senior garbage rate is $11.67.
“A senior qualifying for the senior water rate that uses 2,000 gallons or less each month would have a $27.99 minimum bill,” he said.
Gossett said if the minimum income requirement is increased to $1,200 per month, that figure would cover households with one or two occupants. The senior water rate would not change.
“I’d also like the council to discuss a provision for seniors who have more than two people in the household, such as two senior parents who are caring for an adult child with a disability,” he said.
Gossett said he would also like to see a policy in place to verify the status of those qualified for the senior water rate, probably on a yearly basis.
“We have people on the list who are deceased, but the household may still be getting the water rate discount because the information wasn’t changed,” he said.
Contact Elsie Hodnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.