About the Author
Chad Swiatecki is a 20-year journalist who relocated to Austin from his home state of Michigan in 2008. He most enjoys covering the intersection of arts, business and local/state politics. He has written for Rolling Stone, Spin, New York Daily News, Texas Monthly, Austin American-Statesman and many other regional and national outlets.
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AE expands resident relief
City Council voted unanimously Thursday to suspend utility service cutoffs, reduce some rates for water and energy service and increase funding to programs assisting residents with their utility bills. The approved ordinance waives late fees on bills due as of March 15, suspends service cutoffs until Sept. 30 and adds $10 million to payment assistance programs for Austin Energy and Austin Water to help those who have lost income due to the pandemic. The two utility companies will each receive $5 million to enhance their respective programs. The increased funding will increase the discount to Austin Energy bills to 15 percent, instead of the standard 10 percent, for eligible customers. An amendment to the ordinance presented by Council Member Jimmy Flannigan directs the city manager to work with other utility companies that serve Austin residents to define eligibility and enrollment processes for similar assistance programs. The ordinance also made several adjustments to the fee schedules for the utilities, which will be reset to normal via a request to Council by their respective executives or during the course of the next budget process when annual rates are typically established. Also on Thursday, Council approved a resolution waiving fees for unstickered extra trash, in effect until the end of the city’s stay-home order that was issued March 24.