Water got shut off? Don’t panic

The City of Keizer will resume shutting off the water of residents with overdue bills the week of Oct. 12, but city officials are not trying to punish anyone. Instead, they need those whose water is shut off to get in touch with the city. 

“This is not to be punitive, but we have a lot of money to put toward coronavirus relief and we need to spend it by Dec. 30,” said Tim Wood, Keizer finance director. 

Keizer is receiving more than $1.1 million as a result of federal efforts to ease the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. As long as the applicant can prove that the pandemic had an effect on their income and ability to meet basic needs, the money is available to pay for any utility bills (gas, water, sewer and electric) as well as rents and mortgages. 

The effort was announced at the Keizer City Council meeting Monday, Oct. 5. Those struggling to make ends meet should call the city at 503-390-8280.

Councilor Marlene Parsons asked if funds are available even to those who have returned to work and are still behind on their bills. 

“If they are playing catch up, we will be able to help,” Wood said. 

Business owners who received city grants or other forgivable loans for their business entities but fell behind on personal bills are also eligible for the relief money. 

Councilor Kim Freeman encouraged Wood to make certain news of the program reached all Keizer residents. Wood said that utility partners are also directing those struggling to make ends meet to the city to arrange for payment. 

The city is working with St. Vincent DePaul to get the relief funds to residents. The city will direct residents to contact St. Vincent DePaul to arrange for relief funds and the city will, in turn, reimburse St. Vincent DePaul for the amounts needed to bring families up-to-date on their bills. 

“They have indicated that they will be able to provide a detailed accounting of how the funds are spent,” Wood told the Keizertimes previously. “We will specifically designate that the funds are to be used only for COVID-19 financial relief, that combined with a timely accounting of funds will significantly reduce the risk that they are diverted for other purposes.”

Last month, the city approved the spending that includes up to $500,000 for family relief as well as: Keizer Civic Center and infrastructure improvements to further reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission and support remote work capabilities; business grants to provide financial relief for businesses impacted by COVID-19; personal protective equipment for city staff and community, and unanticipated staff costs as the result of COVID-19.