With MDC Rates Poised To Increase, Assistance Program Offered To Customers | Connecticut Public Radio

With MDC Rates Poised To Increase, Assistance Program Offered To Customers

Dec 6, 2018

Water customers around Hartford who are having trouble paying their bill could be eligible for assistance. That’s because Operation Fuel has teamed up with the MDC to help households struggling with payments.

The MDC, which provides water and sewer service to several towns around Hartford, has been raising its rates recently.

Next year, the MDC proposed hiking those rates again, in part, to help pay for mandated upgrades to its sewer system.

It’s a change the MDC said could increase the average residential customer’s bill by around 12 percent, from $58 per month to $65 per month.

The MDC said that increase doesn’t account for sewer fees that show up on local property tax bills.

Since kicking off the water assistance program in April, Operation Fuel said it’s helped 111 households, by giving each assistance of up to $500 to pay outstanding bills.

The program is for households who fall below a certain income threshold and otherwise have a good history of paying their bills.

“Shutting off someone’s water means your home is uninhabitable,” said Brenda Watson, executive director of Operation Fuel.

Her group got $50,000 from the MDC earlier this year to fund the assistance program.

The MDC said it’s budgeted an additional $50,000 for next year. It’s also considering adding a $1 “good neighbor” checkbox on bills to help fund the program.

Watson hopes if the MDC does add that box, people check it.

“Checking off a box on a good neighbor fund is an investment that, I believe, we all as neighbors can step in and help out,” Watson said.

As for why MDC rates have been rising, MDC spokesperson Nick Salemi said nearly 40 percent of the “typical” residential monthly water bill for 2018 customers went toward mandated Clean Water Project (CWP) charges.

“The CWP charge is more than the regular water rate and has been since 2014,” Salemi wrote. “No other water or sewer customers in CT have a similar program or requirement of that scale. This charge is the major driver for the increase in the water bill over the last decade.”

MDC is expected to vote on next year’s increase Monday.

For information on the Operation Fuel assistance program, MDC says customers should call 860-278-7850 and press “3.”