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Stack, Singleton Bill Permitting Certain Local Units and Authorities to Reduce Water, Sewer, and Storm Water Fees for Low-Income People Advances

Trenton – The Senate Community and Urban Affairs committee advanced legislation today sponsored by Senator Brian Stack and Senator Troy Singleton that would permit certain local units and authorities to reduce water, sewer, and storm water fees for low-income individuals under certain conditions.

“Federal aid from the American Rescue Plan allowed the State to launch the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP), which provided much-needed relief to New Jersey families struggling to pay their water bills, decreasing the overall number of overdue payments. With this funding now spent, without action these households will see a decrease in the assistance they have come to rely on,” said Senator Stack (D-Hudson). “By allowing water authorities the ability to offer rate reductions we can continue to help families facing financial hardship and ensure everyone has access to clean water at home.”

Under the bill, S-286, a local unit or authority establishing reductions would be required to adopt procedures for determining a ratepayer’s eligibility for relief.   Applicants seeking reductions would need to provide information concerning their identity, income, household, and ownership or tenancy.

Local units or authorities would not be able to offer rate reductions unless they have a sufficient amount of unrestricted net position in their annual budget to set aside and offset the projected loss in revenues attributable to the reductions.

“Fee increases for water systems to remove lead service lines or improve infrastructure have the greatest impact on low-income families,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “Every New Jersey resident deserves access to clean and affordable water. This bill authorizes providers to offer rate reductions to offset these costs for individuals struggling to pay their bills.”

Additionally, the bill allows local units and authorities to arrange a payment plan with delinquent ratepayers not to exceed five years in duration, covering their balance, interest, and penalties in equal monthly installments.

The bill advanced out of committee in a 3-1 vote.