Kansas City to help residents with water bills

Written by Muleskinner Staff

(KANSAS CITY, Mo., AP) – The city council in Kansas City has taken steps to help low-income residents faced with significant increases in water bills.
The city council has approved boosting its annual water assistance fund from $240,000 to $300,000 beginning May 1, The Kansas City Star reported. The fund will provide help to about 1,050 families over the next year, which is an increase from 800 in the past year.
Average monthly residential water and sewer bills are expected to increase 11.5 percent this year to help the city pay for fixing aging water mains and complying with federal requirements to overhaul the sewer system. Average monthly bills are expected to increase from $65 two years ago to $82.50 this year.
“We anticipate a greater need,” said Sean Hennessy, chief financial officer for Kansas City Water Services.
The financial aid program is designed for Kansas City residents who have a good record of paying their Water Services bills but have lost a job or have struggled in other ways to pay a few months’ worth of bills. Residents meeting income guidelines, making less than $43,000 for a family of four, can get one-time assistance during the year.
“This is done to help people who regularly meet their obligations,” he said.
The Mid America Assistance Coalition oversees the program. In 2011, the group had 6,033 calls requesting assistance with water bills, according to coalition executive director John Rich. That number increased last year to 6,579, and the average payment was about $275.