Virginia has awarded the Town of Vienna close to $50,000 so that it can assist residents and businesses struggling to pay their water and sewer bills due to economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Vienna Town Council voted yesterday (Monday) to formally accept the $49,290 grant from a coronavirus relief fund that the Commonwealth of Virginia established using federal CARES Act money to help municipal utility customers experiencing economic hardship as a result of the ongoing pandemic.
The grant funds must specifically go toward overdue utility payments incurred between Mar. 1 and Dec. 30 of last year.
Town of Vienna Finance Director Marion Serfass told the council that the town has identified about 59,000 water and sewer customers who might be eligible to receive funds.
“We’re now going through the process of reaching out to customers and trying to get them to accept the funds, because we really want to give those funds away,” Serfass said.
The town sent out letters to individuals and businesses that meet the grant criteria. Staff members will also call customers to ensure all of the funds are distributed by the grant’s Jan. 29 deadline.
Vienna coordinated with Fairfax County to apply for the state grant in November.
The grant can cover up to 5% of the administrative expenses related to allocating the funds, but Serfass says the Town of Vienna will only need to use a fraction of that amount to cover postage costs.
In order to receive relief, customers must show that they are dealing with economic challenges because of the COVID-19 pandemic, whether it is because they have been laid off or lost hours, are unable to work because they have contracted or at a high risk of contracting the disease, or have to stay home to provide childcare.
Serfass says the process of contacting eligible residents and businesses has been “slow-going,” but she is confident that the town will be able to distribute all the grant funds in time.
For residents of Fairfax County and the cities of Falls Church and Fairfax, Fairfax Water has extended the application window for its COVID-19 municipal utilility relief program to Jan. 15. The deadline to apply for payment assistance was previously Dec. 30.
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