What is the COVID-19 Municipal Utility Relief Program?
- In November 2020, Governor Northam signed Virginia’s biennial budget that was revised to address impacts of COVID-19 to the Commonwealth of Virginia.
- The budget revision included federal CARES Act funding to utilities like Arlington to help pay down past due bills for customers who are experiencing financial difficulties due to COVID-19.
How much money is available to Arlington customers through the Program?
- Arlington applied for this funding.
- Arlington received approximately half of its funding request.
- The Commonwealth is still developing guidance around fund allocations to utilities.
Who is eligible for the Program?
- Customers with unpaid balances incurred from March 1, 2020 through Dec. 30, 2020 are eligible.
- Both commercial and residential customer types are eligible
- Governmental entities are not eligible.
What does a customer have to do to get in the funding queue?
- Customers receive a one-time payment from the Program.
- Customers must fill out a form and return it to Arlington to receive consideration for relief funds.
- Eligible customers will also receive a form via mail from which can be completed and mailed in the envelope provided or scanned and emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
- The form is also available online.
- To be eligible, all forms must be postmarked or submitted online by Jan. 15, 2021.
- Funds will be available on a first come, first serve basis.
- It is not known at this time whether Arlington will be provided enough funding to cover all applicable needs.
How will Arlington decide how to award funding to customers?
- Customers may receive relief for up to 100% of their outstanding water and sewer balance accrued from March 1, 2020 through December 30, 2020.
- Customers who have outstanding balances more than 60 days old will be first in line to receive available funds
- If funds remain, funds will then be made available to customers with balances more than 30 days old.
- Arlington will calculate allocations to commercial customers after all attestations are received. Based on the number of eligible participants and the total amount eligible for forgiveness, Arlington may cap awards for commercial customers at $5,000 in accordance with DHCD recommendations.
Why is a form required?
- The form is a requirement of the budget legislation
- The form requires the customer attest to a financial hardship due to COVID-19 in order to receive funding.
- The customer must also make several certifications on the form, including that the customer has not received CARES act funding relief from another source to cover previous wastewater bills.
How can I find out whether I am eligible for the Program?
- Arlington will notify all customers who are eligible for the Program in December by mail and include more details on the next steps they need to take.
- A first-class letter will be sent to the mailing address listed in your Arlington account, which may differ from the premise address at which you receive water and sewer services.
- If you believe you should be eligible and do not receive a letter, you can fill out the form online.
Can I enroll in the Program over the phone?
- Yes, Arlington will enroll individuals over the phone for this Program. All that customers need to do, is to call the Utility Relief Hotline at 703-228-5080. Customers will be asked to answer a few simple questions. Attest to their need and declare that they have not received CARES funds that were to be used to pay for their outstanding balance.
What is the deadline for submitting the required form?
- Deadline: Postmarked or submitted online by Jan. 15, 2021
- We encourage you to submit the required form as soon as possible.
- Arlington will award available funds to customers on a first-come, first-serve basis.
How will I know if I have been awarded funds?
- A credit will be applied to your account for all or a portion of your past due amount. If you are awarded a credit, you will see that credit applied as an adjustment on your next bill from Arlington.
- Per the legislation, only past due amounts incurred from March 1, 2020 through Dec. 30, 2020 are eligible.
- You can always call customer service to confirm whether the credit has been applied.
What if I am not eligible for this program but can’t pay my bill?
- Arlington offers flexible payment plans.
- A payment plan can spread out the payment of your outstanding balance in installments, without the accrual of any additional fees or interest.
- No new deposits or down payments are required for participation.
- If you are unable to pay your balance on time, please contact us to enroll in a payment plan by calling 703-228-5000 (option 3).
If I don’t pay my bill, will Arlington shut off my water?
- No, disconnections are suspended until the Governor determines that the economic and public health conditions have improved or until at least 60 days after the declared state of emergency ends.
- We strongly encourage customers to pay their bill as they ordinarily would, to avoid a larger outstanding balance, or run the risk of disconnection when this service resumes.
- Aside from this program, Arlington is not able to forgive balances, under state law.