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The Bellevue City Council approved on Monday a request by city staff for participation in the federal Low-Income Home Water Assistance Program, which would provide funds to assist low-income households with payments of water and wastewater bills.

City Clerk/Treasurer Marian Edwards brought the program to the City Council’s attention Monday, saying it could help 10 to 20 families make ends meet while paying for water and sewer services, including overdue bills.

“There are some people that are really struggling” Edwards said. “Sometimes they come in with just twenty bucks. We work out payment agreements with them.”

The LIHWAP is administered through the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare in conjunction with the South-Central Community Action Partnership. The program provides up to $1,500 per household with combined incomes below 60% of the state median income, which means earning less than $33,480 per year for a family or less than $16,800 for an individual.

Qualifications also include families using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), Supplemental Security Income (for the disabled), means-tested veteran’s programs or the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (for power bills).

Edwards said it would take city staff some time and effort to enroll qualified applicants in the program, but that her staff could handle it.

“It’s an added burden, but we are up to the task,” Edwards said. “We were just today working with a family on bills whose breadwinner was starting a new job this week.”

The program will provide the city with past due payments within 10 days of a customer becoming eligible.

The assistance is for drinking water only, and sewer services, and can be used to pay for late fees and reconnection fees.

In other Bellevue news, the City Council:

• Authorized an $8,000 payment to Mountain Rides for services.

• Approved a $2,875 expense for SCUBA diving services to inspect and clean a potable water tank.

• Approved a $8,783 expense for the Street Department for six new tires for a grader.

• Approved a $3,473 expense for one week’s rental of a crack sealing machine to fix streets and keep moisture from getting under asphalt.

Email the writer: tevans@mtexpress.com

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