At the request of Sen. Chris Bray, chair of the Vermont Senate’s Committee on Natural Resources and Energy, GMWEA conducted a survey of the state’s water, wastewater, and stormwater facilities in January.
The goal: To determine the past due balances — what some towns call “aged receivables” — left unpaid by households and businesses. This information will help assess future funding needs for the Vermont COVID-19 Arrearages Assistance Program (VCAAP), which provides grants to eligible individuals and entities to pay utility bills.
GMWEA’s Public Relations committee, chaired by Joe Duncan (left), general manager of Champlain Water District, took the lead. Staff contacted over 900 individuals in city and town governments statewide, requesting data on arrearages over 60 days; 96 municipal entities responded.
The information was eye-opening. As GMWEA reported to the Senate, respondents collectively reported the following arrearages:
- Wastewater: $1,823,793
- Drinking water: $1,750,548
- Stormwater: $137,554
- Total arrearages in responding municipalities: $3,704,625
The committee then calculated the implications of these figures. The cities and towns reporting represent a population of 324,791, or 71% of the total population of cities/towns with municipal systems.
Extrapolating the total statewide arrearages from that proportion, GMWEA concluded that water, wastewater, and stormwater utilities are facing $5,218,000 in unpaid user fees! The potential impact on individuals, businesses — and municipal budgets — is huge.
The survey did not determine how much of the arrearages result from the economic impacts of COVID-19. However, based on the data received, GMWEA has recommended that $5,250,000 be provided to VCAAP to ease financial hardships associated with the pandemic.
GMWEA urges Individuals, businesses, and municipal entities to learn more about VCAAP and to assess their eligibility for grants by visiting the Vermont Dept. of Public Service page by clicking here. Or, just search the web for “VCAAP.”
To return to GMWEA’s website, click here.