[HISTORY: Adopted by the Council of the Borough of Lansdale 12-16-2020 by Ord. No. 2020-1946. Amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter may be known and cited as the "Emergency Electric Grant Assistance Program Ordinance" of the Borough of Lansdale.
The purpose of this chapter is to establish an Emergency Electric Grant Assistance Program that may be activated by Borough Council in its sole and absolute discretion when an emergency disaster has been declared for the Borough of Lansdale in order to provide assistance to eligible households who are Borough residents and customers of the Lansdale Borough Electric Utility System in order to meet home electric needs.
The following words and terms, when used in this chapter, shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
- The individual or person who files an application for a grant under the EEGAP on behalf of the applicant and the applicant's household.
- AUTHORIZING RESOLUTION
- The resolution adopted by Borough Council to authorize the activation of the EEGAP as required under § 195-4B.
- The Borough of Lansdale.
- BOROUGH EMERGENCY DISASTER DECLARATION
- Any proclamation of disaster emergency issued by the Borough or its elected officials pursuant to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Services Code, 35 Pa.C.S.A. § 7101 et seq., including any corresponding ratification or extension of said proclamation.
- DATE OF APPLICATION
- The date that a completed application is filed with the Borough or designated EEGAP administrator.
- The Lansdale Borough Emergency Electric Grant Assistance Program.
- EEGAP ADMINISTRATOR
- The Borough Manager, Borough Finance Director or their designee who is responsible for the administration of this chapter, including the processing, award, and appeals of EEGAP grant applications. Borough Council may by resolution appoint a third-party administrator to perform all or some of the administrative duties, in which case said third-party administrator shall be the EEGAP Administrator to the extent of their duties for purposes of this chapter.
- An individual or group of individuals, including related roomers, who are living together as one economic unit that customarily pays for its home heating energy either directly to a vendor or indirectly as an undesignated part of rent.
- LRR or LEGALLY RESPONSIBLE RELATIVE
- A parent of a minor child or a spouse.
- A person whose home is in the Borough and who lives there voluntarily and not temporarily for a reason such as vacation, a visit or education.
- RESIDENTIAL ELECTRIC BILL
- The bill issued by the Lansdale Borough Electric Department for the use and consumption of electricity.
- An individual whose payment for lodging in a room includes electric and may include a private bathroom or one of the following: board; or kitchen or bathroom privileges on a shared basis; or light housekeeping facilities.
Establishment. There is hereby established an Emergency Electric Grant Assistance Program that may be activated by Borough Council and implemented by the Borough in accordance with the procedures and terms set forth in this chapter.
Operation and activation. The EEGAP shall not operate unless and until Borough Council authorizes its activation by resolution. Such authorizing resolution may not be adopted until after a Borough emergency disaster declaration occurs. Such authorizing resolution may be adopted in any manner provided for by applicable law, including any expedited procedures that may be available under the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Services Code, 35 Pa.C.S.A. § 7101 et seq., as may be amended from time to time.
Contents of authorizing resolution. The authorizing resolution shall contain the following:
Basis or reference to the Borough emergency disaster declaration;
Statement that the Borough emergency disaster declaration has caused or will cause an economic impact to Borough residents and households;
The amount of funding being authorized for the EEGAP authorized by the resolution;
The criteria to be used to determine eligibility for a grant or award by an applicant under the EEGAP authorized by the resolution that shall be in addition to the mandatory minimum eligibility requirements set forth in § 195-5;
The maximum amount that may be awarded to an applicant under the EEGAP authorized by the resolution;
The date by which requests by an applicant must be submitted and the date by which the EEGAP authorized by the resolution shall end.
Income qualifications. To qualify for an EEGAP grant, an applicant and applicant's household shall meet income requirements at the time of application. Unless otherwise stated in the authorizing resolution, the applicant and applicant's household gross annual income, as defined in § 195-6 below, shall be equal to the median income level for Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, as established by the United States Department of Health and Human Services or by an agency of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or by an agency of Montgomery County. Nothing in this section shall prohibit the Borough from imposing additional or more stringent income qualification requirements for an EEGAP in the authorizing resolution.
Responsibility for electric utility costs. To be eligible for an EEGAP grant, the applicant and applicant's household shall be responsible for paying its residential electric bill directly to the Borough Electric Department or indirectly to the Borough Electric Department as an undesignated part of rent.
The following persons and members of their households are deemed responsible for payment of its residential electric bill:
Homeowners or renters, including subsidized housing tenants, who pay for residential electric directly to the Borough.
Renters, including subsidized housing tenants, who pay for residential electric indirectly as an undesignated part of rent. Renters, including subsidized housing tenants, are ineligible if their rental charge includes an undesignated amount for electric and is based on a fixed percentage of their income or on their source of income.
Roomers who pay for their lodging in either a commercial establishment or in a private home which is their permanent and primary home. Roomers are ineligible if their charge for room or room and board is based on a fixed percentage of their income or on their source of income.
Persons are ineligible if they are in a temporary living arrangement for a reason such as a visit, vacation or education. Residents in institutions, dormitories, fraternity or sorority houses and boarding homes are ineligible.
Residency. To be eligible for an EEGAP grant, the applicant or applicant's household members shall be residents of the Borough and must have an account with the Borough Electric Department.
Gross income definition. Unless otherwise specified in the authorizing resolution, "gross income" shall mean the total earned and nonearned income of the household that includes the following:
Employee earnings. Employee earnings are money, including wages, salaries, bonuses, commissions and tips, before taxes or other deductions, that a person receives for providing services on behalf of an employer.
Profit from self-employment. Profit of a self-employed person is gross receipts minus costs of operating a business or farm, practicing a profession, providing day care for children in an approved family day-care facility, or renting nonresident real property.
Nonearned income. Nonearned income includes, but is not limited to, the following: public assistance grants, social security benefits, worker's compensation, supplemental security income, unemployment compensation, support payments, cash gifts and contributions, pensions, interest from investments or bank accounts, veterans benefits and similar benefits that may be reported on either federal or state tax returns.
Gross income exclusions. Unless otherwise specified in the authorizing resolution, the following sources of gross income may be excluded by the applicant or applicant's household:
The portion of an educational loan grant or scholarship to an undergraduate student actually spent for tuition, books and other required educational fees, and the amount of income from other sources used to pay out-of-pocket expenses for books and other required educational fees.
Allowable costs of a student's financial assistance received from a program funded in whole or in part under Title IV of the Higher Education Assistance Act Amendments of 1986 (Pub. L. 99-498, 100 Stat. 1268).
Payments for services or out-of-pocket expenses to volunteers serving as foster grandparents, senior health aids or senior companions, and to persons serving in other programs under Title II of the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973 (42 U.S.C.A. §§ 5001 through 5024).
Payments to volunteers for VISTA, Service-Learning Programs and Volunteer Programs under Title I of the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973 (42 U.S.C.A. §§ 4951 through 4994).
The value of bonus coupons received by a participant in the Food Stamp Program.
The value of donated foods, surplus commodities, from the United States Department of Agriculture.
The value of home produce of clients for household consumption.
Money received under the Senior Citizen Rebate and Assistance Act (72 P.S. §§ 4751-1 through 4751-12).
Money received as incentive or training-related expenses provided to persons involved in a work/training program sponsored by a federal, state or local government agency.
Deductions for Medicare premiums deducted from social security benefit payments.
Amounts received as reimbursement for medical costs, medical transportation and special need items as defined under 55 Pa. Code Chapter 175, § 175.21 et seq. (relating to allowances and benefits).
Cash or in-kind assistance with heating costs provided by private or public agencies or utility companies.
Personal loans, bank loans or other noneducational loans designated for a specific purpose from an established financial institution.
The portion of a social security lump sum death benefit designated for funeral expenses.
Up to the first $50 of voluntary support from legally responsible relatives or a court-ordered support that the household receives in a given month, including support refunded during the month.
Multimember household income counted. Unless otherwise specified in the authorizing resolution, to determine the income level of an applicant and applicant's household for an EEGAP grant, the gross annual income for income limit purposes shall include:
Income period for determining gross income calculation. Unless otherwise specified in the authorizing resolution, an applicant may choose whether the time period to be used in determining gross annual income shall be for the 12 months or the 30 days before the date of application. Regardless of the selected time period, gross income shall be converted to a yearly figure.
Income documentation. Unless otherwise specified in the authorizing resolution, an applicant shall agree and acknowledge that:
The applicant shall produce, if requested, documentation of the amounts and sources of income of household members, including related roomers.
The applicant shall report but is not required to document income of persons in the household who are current recipients of public assistance, food stamps or supplemental security income.
Filing. Unless otherwise specified in the authorizing resolution, a member of the applicant's household shall complete and file with the EEGAP Administrator an application on a form as prepared by the Borough. To complete an application for an EEGAP grant, the applicant, on behalf of the applicant's household, shall:
Answer all questions on the Borough's EEGAP application form.
Sign and date the application form and certify that the applicant's answers are made subject to penalties of 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 4904 relating to unsworn falsification to authorities.
Provide income documentation as may be required or requested.
Provide documentation of responsibility for the payment of residential electric bills as may be required or requested.
Provide additional verification, as needed and requested by the EEGAP Administrator to determine eligibility for an EEGAP grant and amount of financial assistance.
Written notice. Unless otherwise stated in the authorizing resolution, the EEGAP Administrator will send the applicant a written notice of the decision on eligibility within 30 days after receiving a completed application. The written notice will include the following:
If eligible. If the applicant and applicant's household is eligible, the written notice will include the amount of the financial assistance awarded and confirmation of the date by which the financial assistance will be paid by the Borough to the Borough Electric Department as payment for the applicant's and applicant's household's residential electric bill.
If ineligible. If the household is ineligible, the written notice will indicate the reason for the decision of ineligibility and provide a reference to the basis for the decision.
Incomplete applications. If an application is not complete, the EEGAP Administrator may, in its discretion, take one of the following actions:
Delay. Delay a decision on eligibility for up to 30 days until the necessary information is received. If the eligibility decision is delayed, the EEGAP Administrator shall provide a written notice to the applicant indicating what information is missing and the date by which the information must be provided to avoid rejection of the application.
Reject. Reject the application on the basis that an eligibility decision cannot be made because the applicant has failed or refused to provide sufficient information needed to determine eligibility.
Exhaustion of appropriated funds. Unless otherwise stated in the authorizing resolution, EEGAP grants shall be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. In the event that the funds appropriated for EEGAP grants under the authorizing resolution is exhausted, the EEGAP Administrator shall notify all pending applicants that their application is denied due to exhaustion of available funds. The EEGAP Administrator shall also notify all applicants submitting applications after funding is exhausted that their applications will not be processed and deemed denied due to the exhaustion of available funding. Borough Council may extend an authorized EEGAP by resolution provided that the resolution contains the criteria set forth in § 195-4C.
All EEGAP grants will be paid in the form of a payment made by the Borough to the Borough Electric Department on behalf of the eligible applicant and applicant's household. No payments will be made directly to any applicant or to any other utility provider or to any third party.
Unless otherwise stated in the authorizing resolution, an applicant shall provide sufficient information regarding the household's circumstances to enable the EEGAP Administrator to determine eligibility and the amount of financial assistance.
Questionable information. The EEGAP Administrator may require an applicant to verify information affecting eligibility that appears to be incomplete, unreasonable or inconsistent with known facts.
Any applicant whose application for an EEGAP grant is denied or otherwise adversely affected by a determination by the EEGAP Administrator may file with a petition for redetermination within 30 days from the date of mailing or written notice by the EEGAP Administrator of such action. Such petition shall be filed with the Borough and shall set forth the grounds upon which the applicant alleges that such action of the EEGAP Administrator is erroneous or unlawful, in whole or in part, and shall be accompanied by an affidavit of affirmation that the facts contained therein are true and correct.
The Borough's Administrative and Finance Committee shall serve as hearing officer for all petitions for redetermination. The Borough's Administrative and Finance Committee shall hold such hearings as may be necessary for the purpose of redetermination, and each applicant who has duly filed such petition for redetermination shall be notified of the time and the place where such hearing in his or her case will be held. An administrative hearing shall be held within 30 days from the date of receipt of a completed petition for redetermination. A decision shall be rendered no later than 60 days from the date of a completed petition for redetermination.
Any party to the proceedings may file an appeal of the determination of the Administrative and Finance Committee to the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas in accordance with 2 Pa.C.S.A. § 751 et seq. (relating to judicial review of local agency action) and 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 933 (relating to appeals from government agencies).
Unless otherwise required by law, information about an EEGAP applicant or recipient is confidential and will be considered a record(s) or information relating to a request for social services that may be disclosed for only the following purposes:
To aid in the determination of EEGAP eligibility.
To aid in the investigation or prosecution of suspected fraud in connection with this chapter and an EEGAP application or award.
To cooperate with federal or state authorities regarding EEGAP audits, reviews and investigations or as may be required as part of any audit of Borough funds.
If an applicant agrees, the EEGAP Administrator may disclose that information about the applicant or recipient household that is needed to help the household apply for or obtain financial assistance under this chapter.
The Borough assures that no person on the basis of race, color, sex, age, handicap, religion, national origin or ancestry or political belief will be excluded from participation in the EEGAP, denied EEGAP grants or be subject to discrimination in an activity or project receiving EEGAP financial assistance.
Households with an elected borough official ineligible. Any application submitted in which the applicant or a member of the household includes a current elected Borough official shall be denied as ineligible on the basis that the recipient or beneficiary of the EEGAP grant would include an elected Borough official.
Households with an employee of the Borough ineligible. Any application submitted in which the applicant or a member of the household includes an individual employed by the Borough at the date of application shall be denied as ineligible on the basis that the recipient or beneficiary of the EEGAP grant would include a Borough employee.
Overpayment defined. An overpayment is the payment of EEGAP funds or provision of EEGAP benefits for which the applicant is either fully or partially ineligible. Such full or partial ineligible determination may occur after an EEGAP grant is awarded based on submitted information or documentation later determined to be incorrect or inaccurate.
Liability for overpayment. An applicant or household that receives EEGAP funds or benefits for which it is ineligible shall repay the Borough for the overpayment. If an overpayment occurs because of suspected fraud or intentional applicant error or misrepresentation, the EEGAP Administrator will refer the overpayment for collection or prosecution to the Borough for appropriate legal action.
Fraud. A person who knowingly misrepresents or withholds information in order to qualify anyone for an EEGAP grant is guilty of fraud and subject to a penalty of a fine or imprisonment, or both, to the extent permitted by law.
The provisions of this chapter shall not be construed as establishing any right or entitlement to an EEGAP grant, and the decision whether to activate or authorize an EEGAP shall be entirely at the discretion of Borough Council.