The Town of Vinton has been awarded federal CARES Act funds in the amount of $68,764 to assist with municipal utility customer relief. The money was set aside in the State Budget by Governor Ralph Northam for utility assistance. State funding can be used for water, wastewater, electric, and gas bills. The Town of Vinton is using the assistance for water & wastewater customers.
According to Vinton Finance Director Anne Cantrell, the town is partnering with Roanoke County in this effort; the county will be acting as the fiscal agent to receive the funds for the town.
“We have a very tight deadline to get applications from customers and get them all processed by the end of the month of December,” Cantrell said.
According to the announcement by the governor, “fundamentally the goal of this program is to assist municipal utility customers experiencing economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Funds are to be used to provide direct assistance to customer accounts over 30 days in arrears during the covered period from March 1, 2020, to December 30, 2020.”
Localities are asked to refrain from providing dual benefits to customers who have already received some level of assistance through other existing programs funded by the CARES Act for the same months.
Vinton customers are required to complete a “Utility Arrearage Assistance” form which includes some basic information (name, address, account number, dates of arrears, phone number, and whether you are a residential or non-residential customer).
Residential applicants are also asked to indicate the cause of their economic hardship during the pandemic: laid off, place of employment closed, reduction in work hours, the need to stay home to care for children due to closure of day care or school, loss of child or spousal support, missed work or hours due to contracting COVID-19, unable to find work due to COVID-19, or unable to participate in previous employment due to being high risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
Non-residential customers are asked to indicate whether their arrears are a result of the pandemic and to explain their specific situation.
CARES Act assistance may be used for bills dated March 1 to December 30, 2020 and not for past due amounts prior to or after those dates.
Funding is designed to be a one-time opportunity, with only one payment per household for residential accounts or per account holder for non-residential accounts.
Hard copies of the application form are available at the Town of Vinton Treasurer’s office and links to the application will be made available on the town’s website at https://www.vintonva.gov/DocumentCenter/View/2105/Customer-Intake-Form–Utility-Relief and on social media.
“We are asking for applications to be turned back in by December 15th for priority, but we will continue to accept them as long as we have funding available,” Cantrell said.
For any questions regarding the Utility Assistance Program or the COVID-19 Relief Repayment Plan Program, please contact the Town of Vinton Treasurer’s Office at 540-983-0608 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.