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Hagerstown increasing aid for utility bills

October 09, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

o For information about applying for heating relief benefits, call the Community Action Council at 301-797-4161.

HAGERSTOWN -- The City of Hagerstown will make it easier for residents to pay their utility bills this winter by loosening the requirements of a municipal program.

The Hagerstown City Council agreed Tuesday to increase the amount of financial aid that people can receive from the Utility Relief Benefit Concert, a charitable event that city officials created last year to raise money for residents who have difficulty paying their utility bills.

Residents will be able to receive between $350 and $500 per year on a case-by-case basis under the new guidelines, said Alfred Martin, finance director for the City of Hagerstown. The former cap was $200.

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Martin said the city decided to act because too many people who sought aid over the past year were turned down.

Although about $20,500 was raised from the inaugural concert in December 2007, only 14 residents qualified for about $2,800 of assistance, Martin said. As a result, the city has almost $18,000 that hasn't been disbursed.

Karen Giffin, the city's community affairs director, said to qualify, residents need to meet certain requirements based on annual income and family size.

A family of four, for example, cannot earn more than $52,950 per year to be eligible.

In addition, people have to be city residents and be able to show that they owe money to a utility vendor, according to city documents.

Giffin said this year's concert will be Dec. 18 at The Maryland Theatre. Entertainment will include opera singer William Clarence Marshall III and local talent. For information about the concert, call 301-739-8577, ext. 116.

For information about applying for heating relief benefits, call the Community Action Council at 301-797-4161.




Utility relief guidelines



Households that earn less than the following annual incomes could qualify for benefits from the Utility Relief Benefit Concert.

  • One person -- $37,050

  • Two people -- $42,350

  • Three people -- $47,650

  • Four people -- $52,950

  • Five people -- $57,200

  • Six people -- $61,650

  • Seven people -- $65,650

  • Eight people -- $69,900

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