It is now significantly easier for low-income Marysville residents with disabilities to receive a reduction to their utility rates thanks to a recent change in the city’s laws.
The Marysville City Council changed the city’s laws regarding the income threshold to make them more in line with other cities in the region this February.
"The city has offered reduced rates for residents with disabilities since 2004,” said Connie Mennie, communications administrator with the city of Marysville.
State law gives cities the option to allow a 30 percent reduction in utility rates for low-income people with disabilities.
The city was contacted by a resident who alerted officials to the situation.
“She said ‘hey, I’m low income and disabled and your utility billing situation uses a threshold that is far lower than any other community,’” said Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring.
“And she had done the research and found what all the other cities did,” he said.
Nehring said city staff wanted to provide low-income people with disabilities the same benefits that other area cities offer.
“We looked and thought that if someone is in that situation we want to give them the same threshold that other cities are giving them,” said Nehring.
"We wanted to provide that rate relief for the people in our community who financially are probably finding it very difficult to make ends meet,” said Mennie.
City officials wanted to help those people and Mennie said city staff researched what was causing the disparity.
"Our city staff looked into why that was and discovered we were using a different set of guidelines about who can qualify,” she said.
The city was using a more restrictive set of guidelines from the United States Department of Health and Human Services when the guidelines from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development would cover more people.
"These new HUD guidelines recognize the different costs of living in the greater Seattle region compared to other areas in the country,” said Mennie.
"It can be quite a drastic change,” she said.
For a single individual under the old guidelines they had to make about $15,000 or less to qualify, but now that threshold is raised to $37,000.
For a family of four the old guidelines set the limit to about $31,000, but now it is about $53,000.
"So a lot more people would be able to qualify under the new guidelines,” said Mennie.
The utility rate reduction will cover water, sewer and stormwater fees and garbage fees if you’re provided service by the city of Marysville (some areas within city limits are provided service by Waste Management).
To qualify for the reduction you have to show that you’re disabled, either by providing a disabled parking placard or through other means.
Mennie said that city staff can help guide individuals through the forms to show that.
The forms to apply for the reduction can be found at marysvillewa.gov, by calling 360-363-8001 or at Marysville City Hall at 1049 State Ave. #101, Marysville.