New assistance program on tap for Bonifay water customers

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Bonifay residents who get behind on their water bill have a new lifeline if they qualify for the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP).

Bonifay City Council voted unanimously in the Jan. 9 regular meeting to enter into an agreement with Tri-County Community Council which is authorized to use federal grant funding to help qualifying households with residential water and wastewater services.

Angie Moore, community resource director at Tri-County, brought a vendor agreement before the council to gain the city’s participation in the program. LIHWAP funding may be used to cover and/or reduce arrearages, fees associated with reconnection or prevention of disconnection of service, and rate reduction to eligible households. The funds would not cover fees for trash pickup.

Moore said Tri-County receives calls from residents every day for assistance with utility bills. Qualification for the program is based on household income and size. The LIHWAP is set to run through the end of September this year. Tri-County hopes to have the funding available by the end of January once all final signatures are on the agreement for the city’s participation in the program.

Residents interested in applying for LIHWAP assistance should call Tri-County Community Council at 850-547-4263. Moore said it is best to not wait for an impending cutoff date to apply. Customers may also learn about other assistance programs they may qualify for by calling Tri-County.

Water customers will be happy to know the council passed a motion to soon accept debit and credit card payments in the lobby and the drive through at city hall. Card payments will not be accepted over the phone to prevent fraudulent transactions.

In other business, the council adopted and did the first reading of the city’s alcohol ordinance. The ordinance will largely follow the county’s alcohol ordinance. The second reading of the ordinance is set for the next regular council meeting.

Finally, the council received a report summarizing Bonifay Fire-Rescue calls for 2022. The department responded to a total of 573 calls, including 25 structure fires, 13 vehicle fires, 50 outside fires, 107 medical calls and 131 motor vehicle crashes among the various call types.

The next Bonifay City Council meeting will be Monday, Jan. 23 at 6 p.m.

Bonifay City Council, water assistance, Tri-County Community Council, credit cards, Bonifay Fire-Rescue

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