Section 101-529 Ord. 16630; Amending Chapter 27 RE: City's Utility Customer Financial Assistance Programs (CASH and HELP)


Ordinance No.            16630              Council Bill No.           B 325-00            

AN ORDINANCE

amending Chapter 27 of the City Code to codify and amend the City’s utility customer financial assistance programs; and fixing the time when this ordinance shall become effective.

BE IT ORDAINED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF COLUMBIA, MISSOURI, AS FOLLOWS:

    SECTION 1.  Chapter 27 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Columbia, Missouri, is hereby amended by adding two new sections reading as follows:

Sec. 27-25.  CASH program.

(a)  The CASH program is established to assist eligible senior citizens and disabled persons in paying utility bills and to assist eligible senior citizens in making utility related emergency home repairs.

(b)    City utility customers may specify amounts they wish to contribute to the CASH program and have such amounts charged on their utility bills.  Contributions to the CASH program shall be accounted for separately.

(c)    To be eligible to receive assistance as a senior citizen, an individual must be a least 60 years old.  To be eligible to receive assistance as a disabled person, an individual either must be currently receiving income based on disability status (for example social security disability payments) or must be totally unable to work because of a physical or mental impairment as documented by a health care professional.

(d)    An individual must meet the following guidelines to be eligible to receive assistance under the CASH program:

    (1)    The individual must be a City electric utility customer and the utility account must be in the individual’s name.

    (2)    The individual’s household income must be at or below 150% of the federal government’s poverty guidelines.

    (3)    The individual’s other resources must be exhausted.


(e)    Assistance in paying utility bills is subject to the following limitations:

    (1)    The individual seeking assistance must be without utility service or the individual’s utility service must be due for disconnection.

    (2)    Payments may be made only for electric, gas, water, sewer, heating fuel or utility deposit.  Payments for utility deposits shall be made no more than one time per household and shall be for a maximum of seventy-five dollars ($75.00). Payments shall not be made for fees of any kind including disconnection fees and reconnection fees.  Heating and cooling bills shall have priority over other types of utility bills.

    (3)    No more than three hundred fifty dollars ($350.00) shall be paid in assistance for any individual in any twelve (12) month period.

    (4)    Disabled individuals are only eligible for the amount of assistance needed to avoid disconnection, for reconnection or for a deposit.  Senior citizens may apply for the annual maximum amount regardless of their account status.

(f)    Assistance in making utility related emergency home repairs shall be limited to senior citizens who own and reside in the home where the repairs are made.  Assistance shall be limited to repairs of existing heating, cooling, water or sewer systems.  Assistance shall not be available for purchase of new units.

(g)    Determinations of eligibility and the amount of assistance to be granted to applicants shall be made by the director of health services or the director’s designee, whose determination shall be final.

(h)    The director of health services is authorized to establish rules and regulations implementing the CASH program.

Sec. 27-26.  HELP program.

(a)    The HELP program is established to assist eligible families with children in paying utility bills.  

(b)    City utility customers may specify amounts they wish to contribute to the HELP program and have such amounts charged on their utility bills.  Contributions to the HELP program shall be accounted for separately.

(c)    An individual must meet the following guidelines to be eligible to receive assistance under the HELP program:

    (1)    The individual must be a City electric utility customer and the utility account must be in the individual’s name.

    (2)    The individual’s household income must be at or below 150% of the federal government’s poverty guidelines.

    (3)    The individual’s other resources must be exhausted.

    (4)    The individual must be the parent or guardian of a child who is eighteen years of age or younger, in the physical and legal custody of the individual and in school (unless the child is unable to attend school because of age or disability).

(d)    Assistance in paying utility bills is subject to the following limitations:

    (1)    The individual seeking assistance must be without utility service or the individual’s utility service must be due for disconnection.

    (2)    An individual is eligible to receive only the amount of assistance needed to avoid disconnection, for reconnection or for a deposit.  Payments for utility deposits shall be made no more than one time per household and shall be for a maximum of seventy-five dollars ($75.00).  Payments shall not be made for fees of any kind including disconnection fees and reconnection fees.  Heating and cooling bills shall have priority over other types of utility bills.

    (3)    No more than one hundred fifty dollars ($150.00) shall be paid in assistance for any individual in any twelve (12) month period.  Assistance is available one time per twelve month period.  There is a life time limit of five times for assistance under the HELP program.

(e)    Determinations of eligibility and the amount of assistance to be granted to applicants shall be made by the director of health services or the director’s designee, whose determination shall be final.

(f)    The director of health services is authorized to establish rules and regulations implementing the HELP program.


    SECTION 2.  This ordinance shall supercede Ordinance 9581, passed on August 16, 1982, which established the CASH program and Ordinance 11288, passed on November 17, 1986, which established the CASH-2 program (now known as the HELP program).

    SECTION 3.  Funds collected under the CASH and CASH-2 (HELP) programs prior to the effective date of section 1 of this ordinance shall be used only in accordance with the provision of the ordinances under which the CASH and CASH-2 programs were established.

    SECTION 4.  Notice shall be given to all City utility customers of the changes in the CASH and HELP programs at least thirty (30) days before the effective date of section 1.

    SECTION 5.  This ordinance shall be in full force and effect from and after its passage except sections 1 and 2 which shall be in full force and effect from and after December 1, 2000.

    PASSED this 2nd day of October, 2000.