Federal workers who live in Astoria and are not receiving paychecks during the government shutdown will get a break on their water and sewer bills.
The Astoria City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to offer a temporary waiver. The program waives penalties, fees and deferred payments during the shutdown.
“This is an easy decision for us to make,” City Councilor Joan Herman said. “It relieves a stress on families who are not receiving paychecks right now.”
People will need to contact the city to make sure they are eligible and to receive payment deferral documentation. They must provide a current bill, identification, and proof they are employed by the federal government.
Anyone who receives a waiver will have to pay the outstanding balance of their water and sewer bill when the government shutdown ends.
The partial shutdown, now in its 33rd day, has affected a number of Clatsop County residents, including the large contingent of Coast Guard personnel who live in Astoria and Warrenton. A food pantry that opened up over the weekend at the Astoria Masonic Lodge served more than 1,300 federal employees and their families.
The community support has been overwhelming, government workers say.
Others in the community have hosted their own food drives, while restaurants and other businesses have offered discounts or deals.
The Astoria Parks, Recreation and Community Foundation and the Parks Department is offering scholarships to federal employees for family fitness passes, swim lessons and other recreational programs. The passes will be available on a month-to-month basis during the shutdown.
“This is about supporting our community,” said newly hired Parks Director Tim Williams.
“Part of our mission is to provide ways to inspire and bring neighbors and visitors together. This is the right thing to do for those that serve our community and our country by allowing them to de-stress in a healthy way, and provide opportunities to enjoy recreational activities with their family during such a difficult time.”
Federal employees interested in receiving a scholarship can talk with staff at the Astoria Recreation Center or at the Astoria Aquatic Center. They must fill out an application and show proof of employment.
An estimated 9,600 federal employees in Oregon are furloughed or working without pay. Shutdowns have happened before, but this one marks the longest in U.S. history.