LOUISVILLE, Ky. — More than two months after city leadership proposed an ordinance that would allocate $10 million to help Louisvillians struggling to pay utility bills, the city launched the Metro COVID-19 Utility Relief Funds Monday morning.
Jefferson County residents who have an outstanding utility bill balance and attest to facing financial hardships can receive a one-time credit of up to $500 for bills with LG&E or Louisville Water/MSD.
The funds are dedicated to anyone who have a past due amount between March 16 and Dec. 31, 2020. There are no income restrictions, though income documentation is required to be in the LG&E Relief Program.
Mayor Greg Fischer said there are 15,000 customers who are behind on their Louisville Water bill. There were around 1,900 customers behind in March 2020. Similarly, LG&E said nearly 28,000 customers have outstanding balances.
The program will operate until funding is depleted. Funding comes from Louisville Metro's general fund dollars freed up by the CARES Act. The Office of Resilience and Community Services will distribute the money.
RCS Director Tameka Laird said they expect funding to deplete fairly quickly, saying she believes there will continue to be financial hardships as long as the pandemic continues.
Fischer also noted LG&E's proposed rate increase, saying that the city is protesting the increase and hopes to get into negotiations that will lessen the amount.
"I understand why LG&E's got to reinvest into their system to keep rate's low, but the timing is bad," Fischer said. "There's a lot of people struggling right now, especially people at the low-income level, so that needs to be taken into consideration in a time like this."
In addition to utility relief funds, the federally-funded Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program is still operating, offering heating assistance for residents who are facing financial hardships.