Friday, March 1, 2024

With delinquent total climbing, CFPUA launches program to help low-income customers

Water customers are reporting cloudy water due to what CFPUA is calling excess iron in the water (Port City Daily/Mark Darrough)
Cape Fear Public Utility Authority has about $2.8 million in delinquent charges among residential customers. (Port City Daily/Mark Darrough)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY –– Cape Fear Public Utility Authority has racked up millions in overdue charges owed from customers falling behind on their bills. To help offset the growing debt, the City of Wilmington and New Hanover County are each allocating $500,000 out of their American Rescue Plan Act funding to assist low-income CFPUA customers. 

Combined, the $1 million in funding will help pay off residential customers’ overdue accounts. 

RELATED: Your water bill may look different in October: CFPUA to switch billing from bimonthly to monthly

The funding boost will help struggling customers and buoy the utility’s books. 

Active residential accounts with charges 60-plus days past due and a balance greater than $450 have a combined delinquent total of $2.12 million, according to CFPUA spokesperson Cammie Bellamy. About 3% of all residential accounts are contributing to this delinquent total.

The running delinquent total among all residential accounts is $2.8 million. Past due totals have steadily climbed since spring 2020, according to Bellamy. 

“As a public utility authority, state law and relevant court decisions are clear that CFPUA must collect debts and cannot provide different treatment for customers of the same type,” Bellamy wrote in an email. “So all residential customers have to be treated the same, including being charged the same rates.”

Payments will be administered through a new CFPUA COVID Relief Program, overseen by the Good Shepherd Center. Eligible debts include charges incurred after Jan. 27, 2020, that are delinquent because of the pandemic.

Household earnings must meet 80% of the area median income to be considered eligible: $44,000 for a family of one; $50,020 for two; $56,550 for three; and $62,800 for four (view the full chart for larger family sizes). 
Applications are available online.

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