In addition to revisiting the portion of RPU Electric Rate that are put into a fixed charge, I also believe that we can do a better job at reaching out to those who are struggling with utility payments. I think there are perhaps better ways to handle bad credit score deposits. Rick Morris did an excellent job outlining how we can do more to serve the community at Monday’s council meeting.
Randy Staver and I both stumbled upon Local Interventions for Financial Empowerment Through Utility Payments (LIFT-UP) at the recent National League of Cities City Summit. This seems like a good program to pursue in Rochester.
We can pretend that the people who are struggling to pay utility bills are just lazy or wasteful. In reality, housing and childcare are enormous struggles for many families. We are better off identifying and working with struggling families than we are just punishing them with more fees and interest. I have added this program to my 2018 to do list at RPU.