M.U.D. BOARD APPROVES 2021 BUDGET
The M.U.D. board approved a 2021 budget with an increase to water rates that will result in a 1% annual increase to the average residential bill as compared with 2020 budget assumptions.
Due to concern over the financial hardship being experienced by many of our customers resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, the effective date of the water rate increase will be deferred until May 2, 2021.
Though there is no increase to natural gas rates, anticipated increases to the underlying cost of natural gas, which is a direct pass-through to our customers, coupled with debt carrying costs associated with a planned bond offering to finance significant enhancements to our Liquefied Natural Gas plant, will result in a 3.6% annual increase to the average residential bill. The water bill for the average residential customer will increase to $383 based on usage of 104 CCF, while the average residential gas bill will increase to $597 based on usage of 781 therms.
The District estimates 2021 revenues of $208.6 million for the Gas Department and $140 million for the Water Department. The revenues, combined with the spenddown of cash reserves, will be used to fund the District’s operating expenses, gas purchases and debt service costs. Funding for capital improvements and critical infrastructure replacement will be supplemented by the planned issuance of revenue bonds.
“We strive to find a balance between rate design and operational efficiencies while ensuring that we provide safe, reliable and cost-effective service to our customers,” said M.U.D. President Mark Doyle. “It also is critical that the District continues to responsibly invest in infrastructure replacement to ensure the reliability of our gas and water distribution systems.”
As compared to 39 other U.S. utilities that participated in the 2020 Memphis Light, Gas and Water Survey, the District ranked fourth lowest in cost for residential gas bills and 18th lowest for residential water bills.
“In addition, the District has been responsive to the financial hardships faced by some of our customers due to the coronavirus pandemic,” said Chief Financial Officer Joseph Schaffart.
“We suspended service disconnections and late payment charges for a period of time, as well as helped customers tap into utility assistance funds through the federal and state CARES Act and the District’s own Home Fund program. The deferral of the water rate increase until May 2 is further evidence of our concern for pandemic-related financial hardships.” More information is available at mudomaha. com/homefund.
FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS AVAILABLE
Customers may be eligible for utility assistance through the state of Nebraska or the M.U.D. Home Fund. The first step is to contact the Nebraska Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) at 1.800.383.4278 or apply online at accessnebraska.ne.gov.
If customers are not currently eligible to receive assistance through ACCESSNebraska, they are encouraged to visit mudomaha.com/homefund for a list of partnering agencies to be connected to utility assistance programs. Or, they may call Customer Service at 402.554.6666 to speak with a representative.
Eligibility guidelines for M.U.D. Home Fund applicants:
Applicants must have verification of a past-due balance or disconnection notice and:
• Be experiencing an acute financial crisis due to a verifiable emergency (illness, death, layoff, etc.) and have exhausted alternative resources, and
• Have an income at or below 200% of the federal poverty level, and/or
• The household contains one or more individuals who are 60+ and the only source of income is social security.
• Applicants are automatically income-eligible if they currently receive government assistance (ie. SNAP, LIHEAP, ADC, Medicaid, AABD).
• If customers do not meet any of the eligibility requirements and are experiencing an acute financial crisis, they should reach out to a partnering agency to determine eligibility.
• Assistance is limited to $500 per fiscal year, per household and can be used for deposit assistance.
14TH ANNUAL EVENT RAISES FUNDS FOR UTILITY ASSISTANCE
Out of an abundance of caution, the 14th annual Heat the Streets Run & Walk for Warmth will be a fully virtual event. This annual event raises awareness and funds for those in our communities in need of utility assistance.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for help is immense, and a record number of first-time customers have requested utility bill assistance. Throughout the past 13 years, participants and sponsors have raised more than $1.3 million for utility assistance. Your support this year means more than ever.
Sign up to join us in running or walking a 5K virtually on March 6 as we ‘Heat the Streets’ in raising money for our friends, family and neighbors in need.
Visit heatthestreetsomaha.com to register to participate, make a donation or review sponsorship options. More details:
Where: Virtually – you can participate in your neighborhood, local park or on the treadmill!
When: Saturday, March 6, 2021
What: Run or walk a 5K, or any distance you’re comfortable with!
Questions? Email [email protected].