City adopts monthly drawing for electric bill rebate

The borough will randomly select one resident each month for a one-month rebate of their residential electricity costs. The new program is called "2021: Wrangell's Year of Hope."

"We know this is going to be a hard year economically. This program offers a small amount of relief," Borough Manager Lisa Von Bargen said in her write-up presenting the idea to the assembly.

Assembly members approved the program Jan. 12.

"Given the community's economic situation there is great value in the borough offering assistance where possible without placing undue hardship on municipal revenues," Von Bargen wrote in her presentation.

This program could cost the borough about $9,600, at most, based on the highest monthly residential electric bill of $800. But most electric bills are far lower than that, and Von Bargen said a more realistic cost is about $5,000 for the year.

One person a month will be randomly selected to receive a rebate on the power portion of their utility bill. For the winner in January, the rebate would apply to their February bill.

To be eligible, the residential customer must be current on their utility bills and have paid the previous month's bill on time. Nobody will be eligible to win twice.

Von Bargen said in her summary statement that it might be considered a strange time for the city to be taking on programs that cost money, while the borough is facing increasing expenses and decreasing income. The city also has several delinquent utility and electric accounts totaling tens of thousands of dollars. However, she said, there were two compelling reasons to adopt the Year of Hope program.

"When the borough opened up CARES Act community grants to businesses with the requirement that all sales tax returns had to be current, there was a significant increase in businesses bringing sales tax returns current," the manager said. "(The) administration is hopeful the same pattern will be repeated with this program" as residents bring their utility accounts current to qualify for the monthly drawing.

A second reason, she said: "This is the right time to be generous in our community."


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