The city is now accepting donations from residents to help their neighbors in need pay their utility bills, according to a news release Monday.
Though there’s no set date for the city to restart utility shutoffs, customers who have a delinquent balance for more than 22 days could lose service once shutoffs do resume. Currently, that’s about 10% of the city’s residential customers, according to the release.
“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated a problem with outstanding utility payments as it left some of our community members unable to keep up with bills due to lost employment, an inability to work, or other circumstances,” according to the release. “To assist these households, the City halted utility shut-offs during the pandemic.”
The utility assistance program allows residents who are able to make donations of any amount via their own monthly bills, and the funds will help those who have been unable to pay.
Any amount that customers can donate would be helpful to make a dent in the $1.7 million balance, according to the city.
“As an example, if half of all City utility customers donated $8 a month for a year, those donations would more than cover the current outstanding balance and help set up the Utility Assistance Program to continue into the future.”
Those who are interested in contributing can fill out the form at this link to authorize the city to add a monthly pledge to their bills. Those who need help will be able to apply beginning in January 2022, according to the city.
Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas will administer the program for $250 per approved application. The Lawrence City Commission’s approval was not required for city staff to move forward with that arrangement, but commissioners gave a nod of approval during a meeting on June 8.