December 31 is the final deadline to sign up for $550 in utilities
The city’s $550 energy credit for each household in Valdez is still open for signups at city hall.
“As of this moment, we have 1,013 signed up,” John Hozey, city manager said in a telephonic interview just before noon, Tuesday. “Last year, we had 1,334.”
The popular program pays $550 to each household in Valdez that pays a fuel or electric bill.
The checks are issued in January and go directly to residential utility accounts.
The program is not a charitable program and there are no income eligibility requirements.
The credit was conceived by council members in 2008 when energy costs skyrocketed and tax revenues in Valdez did the same. The credit was billed as a de facto tax rebate to households.
“Right now, in the budget there’s $800,000 for it,” Hozey said.
While the program has few restrictions, households must sign up for the credit at city hall.
An ID showing Valdez residency and a current fuel or electricity bill in the name of the applicant are needed to qualify. Only one credit per household is allowed, but it can be allocated to either a fuel supplier, CVEA or split between two.
Business and commercial users are not eligible according to the city’s website.
Applicants that owe money to the City of Valdez will have any debt owed deducted from the credit.
“It’s been real consistent” through the years, Hozey said of the application process, and he expects the number of sign ups this year to mirror the number of participants from last year.
City Hall also takes advantage of the registration process to collect population data, and asks registrants to fill out a simple, one page, population survey.
This year, Valdez residents can apply for the credit during regular business hours until December 31. On Monday, December 17, Valdez City Hall will be open until 7:30 p.m. to help accommodate registrants that are unable to sign up during the regular business hours from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
If that timetable is still undoable for registrants, a mail-in process is also available.
“Eligible households may register via US Mail as long as all required documentation is attached to a notarized registration form and all information is received in City Hall by December 31, 2012,” the city’s website said.
The forms are also available for download at the website.
“We have paid out” $2,775,417; since 2009, Walter Sapp, the city’s finance director, said.
For the first time since 2008, when the program was first funded, the Valdez City Council did not forward allocate funding for the program in its 2013 budget, which would be paid out in early 2014.
“There’s not enough for it in `14,” Hozey said.
But that does not necessarily mean the program will end.
“The council will need to appropriate more,” he said, “Either mid-year,” when the city council adjusts its current budget in June or July, or in its 2014 budget, which will be passed in late 2013.