Reduced Utility Rate Program FAQ

Hermiston

Question:  I lost my job.  What programs does the City have to help with my utility bills?

Answer: The City of Hermiston has a Reduced Utility Rate program to assist low-income customers by reducing the base amount by 50%.  However, if you didn’t qualify as low-income before the job loss, then it is unlikely that you qualify for this program.  The City of Hermiston does not have any utility programs to assist customers experiencing short-term loss of income.

Question:  How do I qualify for the Reduced Utility Rate Program?

Answer: The City of Hermiston’s Reduced Utility Rate program is structured to assist low-income customers who are on a fixed income, with little ability to change their income (i.e. Seniors & Disabled).  Therefore, qualification is based on your previous calendar year’s income, as shown on your federal tax return.  Qualification is purely income-based; therefore, not all seniors or those with disabilities are qualified for this program.  This program is structured for those below the federal poverty threshold. All income which appears on your tax return, including pension payments, Social Security, investment earnings, etc., is included in the poverty threshold.  Call City Hall at 541-567-5521 to ask for an application.

Question:  What other assistance is there to pay my residential utility bill?

Answer: The U.S. Congress has passed, and President Trump has signed, the $2.2 Trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March, 2020.  This act includes direct cash payments to most households to help pay bills, including utilities, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Question:  I own a business that has been closed due to statewide executive order.  What programs does the City have to help with my utility bills?

Answer: The City of Hermiston does not have any utility bill assistance programs for commercial users. 

Question:  What other assistance is there to pay my commercial utility bill?

Answer: The U.S. Congress has passed, and President Trump has signed, the $2.2 Trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March 2020.  This act includes $349 Billion for direct assistance to small businesses (less than 500 employees) to help pay for things like utilities, rent, and payroll through the “Paycheck Protection Program.”  Any money that a business borrows under this program, which is used to pay for utilities, is converted from a loan to a grant.

The City of Hermiston strongly encourages all businesses to talk to your banker directly about the Paycheck Protection Program, and other components of the CARES Act.  City of Hermiston staff are not qualified to provide any other advice or recommendations regarding the CARES Act.

Question:  What else is the City of Hermiston doing to help businesses?

Answer: On April 2, the City of Hermiston re-allocated 14 staff members to directly call all commercial utility accounts on April 2, to encourage them to speak to their banker immediately to seek out this assistance.  Together with the Greater Hermiston Chamber of Commerce, we directly contacted more than 500 businesses.

Question: Will the City of Hermiston reduce my utility rates to help my business?

Answer: The City Council approved a change to utility rate structure in September 2018, which placed more emphasis on how much water is used.  Therefore, we hope that, as you are closed, you are using less water, which will directly reduce your utility costs.

Question: I’m not sure if I will get a CARES Stimulus Check due to immigration-status. What can I do?

Answer: The City of Hermiston is not involved in immigration policy administration, and City staff cannot offer immigration advice.  We recommend that you seek out qualified immigration assistance.

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